Are there some indirect ways in which Washington displays anger, pride, or resentment? Which aspects of his past seem to have most affected him?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Up From Slavery tells the story of Booker T. Washington's rise from slavery to the life of a free man. His book is written for every human, no matter the skin color. His main concern was to promote education for African Americans. He helped establish the Tuskegee Institute to promote this goal. Because of this, while he speaks of his experiences as a slave negatively, he is generally respectful when speaking of white people. This is likely because he is looking to convince white men and women of the benefits of educating African Americans. (White people would have an easier time providing funding for the Tuskegee school than most newly freed slaves.) On the first page, Washington writes:

My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many others.

Here, he says that his early owners were not overly cruel. However, he then explains that he knew almost nothing about his ancestry:

In the days of slavery not very much attention was given to family history and family records - that is, black family records.

Here, Washinton presents a factual statement. Few records were kept about the slaves. His words do not directly state that he resented this; yet, it can be inferred that he is sad that he does not know hardly anything of his family history.

Washington's words are generally fairly positive. For example, even when talking of his white father, a man who impregnated his mother and then never got involved in his son's life, he says:

... I do not find especial fault with him. He was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the Nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that time.

Washington is generally optimistic, especially since he faced great hardships as a slave. Statements that show his negativity, anger, or resentment have to be hunted for.

Another factual statement that appears to have some resentment in it is seen when Washington explains that he never had time to play as a child:

I was asked not long ago to tell something about the sports and pasttimes that I engaged in during my youth. Until that question was asked it had never occured to me that there was no period of my life that was devoted to play.

Washington does not directly say that he is upset that he never had time to play. He simply states the fact and then adds, "though I think I would now be a more useful man if I had had time for sports." Washington's tone of writing is generally factual and conversational.

Rather than speaking in an overly negative manner or blaming others for enslaving him, Booker T. Washington states some of the sad facts about his years of enslavement. At moments, Washington indirectly reveals potential reasons for resentment or anger. He was likely resentful that he could not learn anything about his family history and upset that he was never allowed any leisure time to play as a child.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial