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How is the style in which My Bondage and My Freedom is written related to Douglass's...

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 5, 2013 at 5:47 PM via web

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How is the style in which My Bondage and My Freedom is written related to Douglass's purpose?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:44 PM (Answer #1)

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The tone of the book is caustic and matter-of-fact, and this leads to its persuasiveness.

Frederick Doulgass was a highly educated man.  His writings on slavery were convincing not because they were overly graphic or sentimental, but because they were the opposite: factual and to the point.

As with most of Douglass’s works, My Bondage and My Freedom has some bite to it.  Douglass’s severe, biting tone reminds the reader that despite his lack of melodrama, he is talking about a serious topic. 

An example of Douglass’s caustic and matter-of-fact tone is found early in the first chapter, when Douglass is explaining about his birth and childhood.

A person of some consequence here in the north, sometimes designated father, is literally abolished in slave law and slave practice. It is only once in a while that an exception is found to this statement. (ch 1)

Ouch.  The comment about “a person of some consequence here in the north” is direct understatement.  Fathers are of course important.  The fact that slaves do not know their fathers is driven home in a simple way that manages to be fiery without being accusatory. 

I never met with a slave who could tell me how old he was. (ch 1)

Douglass goes on to comment that slaves are denied even the knowledge of thier birthday.  This basic fact reinforces Douglass’s tone, and his purpose.  He wants to persuade people that slavery is wrong.  He does it without being didactic, just focusing on the facts.

 

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