How do the devices and structure below help achieve the purpose of Chapter 11 in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Support your examples with information from the text   given:...

How do the devices and structure below help achieve the purpose of Chapter 11 in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Support your examples with information from the text

 

given: Freedom is the same as bondage

device: diction and structure

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Frederick Douglass's notion that there is some enslavement in freedom arises from the fact that even in his life as a free man there are conditions to which he feels bound.

In Chapter XI, after having finally escaped his slavery, Douglass writes,

I would allow myself to suffer under the greatest imputations which evil-minded men might suggest, rather than exculpate myself, and thereby run the hazard of closing the slightest avenue by which a brother slave might clear himself of the chains and fetters of slavery.

In this passage, Douglass employs a rhetoric that strongly emphasizes his willingness to be maligned by being accused of criminal activities or the like rather than to reveal how he escaped slavery and be the cause of "a brother slave" being captured or kept from escaping.

Douglass's diction is effective in this chapter and in others as well as as he employs strong, evocative words and descriptive metaphors. Examples of metaphors in the above cited passage that create expressive images for the readers are the unstated comparison of the path of freedom to "the slightest avenue" and enslavement to the "chains and fetters of slavery."

While the metaphor of slavery's "chains and fetters" does express a literal condition of enslavement, it also forms a comparison between enslavement as a fettering, or restricting, of both the body and the mind. In this respect, then, Douglass, who is free physically from slavery, yet feels fettered in mind and in spirit by the social conditions that exist in his country.

Further, Douglass makes the argument that those who run the underground railroad but speak of it run the risk of discovery because of their lack of discretion. In order to emphasize this point, Douglass uses parallelism, as, for instance, in the following passage:

They do nothing towards enlightening the slave, whilst they do much towards enlightening the master.

Frederick Douglass also emphasizes the fear of detection that he experiences even after reaching freedom, demonstrating yet another condition of his newfound freedom. He describes his fear as a fugitive slave by suggesting that a person can only understand this condition by being in it himself. Douglass describes these feelings with broken sentences:

Let him be a fugitive slave in a strange land--a land given up to be the hunting-ground for slaveholders--whose inhabitants are legalized kidnappers--where he is every moment subjected to the terrible liability of being seized upon by his fellowmen....

The broken quality of these sentences reflects how Douglass feels. As he heals under the auspices of Mr. Johnson, who pays his travel aid and suggests his new last name, Douglass begins to become whole again and his narrative reflects this new confidence.

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