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How was Douglass able to tailor make his message to a specific audience in his...

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ilovemalia725 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 4, 2012 at 5:54 AM via web

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How was Douglass able to tailor make his message to a specific audience in his autobiography?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM (Answer #1)

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It seems to me that Douglass was deliberate in aiming his work towards the abolitionist crowd emerging in the North against slavery.  At the same time, Douglass understood that his work could be a convincing weapon to the Northern "silent majority" that remained silent on the issue of slavery.  Douglass recognized that his work would have little impact on the Southerner.  Rather, he constructed much in his work that would speak to the Northern audience.  The fiercely intense discussion of slavery, the frank nature of abuses suffered, as well as the appeal to human rights are all the vehicles that Douglass uses to ensure that his message is received by the Northern audience.  To the abolitionist, Douglass' narrative becomes a tool that can be used to further justify why slavery is bad and why it is wrong.  To the Northerner who is unaware of the condition of slavery, Douglass' use of making it an issue of human rights and not merely a contingent political issue is one in which the conscience of the reader is awoken and driven into a condition where action becomes the only acceptable response.  In this, Douglass is able to tailor make his message to an audience that he believes will be able to do something relevant with it.

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