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In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, what is an example of how Douglass...

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annreis | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 14, 2011 at 9:09 AM via web

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In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, what is an example of how Douglass found his freedom through his slavery experience?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 14, 2011 at 6:47 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the biggest examples that this fascinating account points toward is the way in which literacy is so closely bound up with freedom. Note the way that Douglass is taught to read and write by his mistress. Even though her husband prevents any further education, Douglass manages to contrive to continue his education through Anglos. His literacy education allows Douglass to perceive freedom as something that he can strive towards, and as he continues to develop educationally we see him moving ever closer towards freedom, in spite of his condition of being a slave. Consider, for example, what Douglass tells us about the impact of reading The Columbian Orator, a collection of speeches written by Englightenment thinkers and how they make him ponder why it is that he is not able to experience the same rights as his white master:

The reading of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery....

Being able to read and write therefore kindles the desire within Douglass to attain freedom, and gives him a restlessness that sustains him through his mistreatment and hardship, and finally allows him to achieve his goal of freedom.

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