In at least four sentences, compare and contrast the literary elements in the autobiographies of Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Franklin.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are some points of convergence as well as some distinct moments of divergence in both narratives.  Both works deal with attempting to display how identity was formed throughout their lives.  Franklin is seeking to compose a book of memoirs about his life, while Douglass is attempting to articulate his own bildungsroman from enslavement to a life after slavery.  Both narratives feature protagonists who were not born into the lap of luxury.  Essentially, both protagonists are on the fringes of society.  It is at this point where divergence is seen as Franklin is able to work his way through the stratified system of class and prestige in order to become part of this circle of power brokers.  Only bringing more attention to the horrors of slavery, Douglass' predicament is rooted in the idea of the inability to rise through obstacles and conditions if one is born a slave.  Finally, the tone of each is rather different.  Franklin's autobiography extols the virtues of what it means to be in America as it was the birthplace of opportunity and advancement, while Douglass condemns it as it is the origin of the enslavement of millions.  The duality of the American experience is revealed in this divergence of tone.

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