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In an excerpt from his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he argues that by giving slaves the access to learn how to read and write they will be empowered with freedom through determination from ignorance. In his essay, Douglass expresses how he was able to overcome the difficulties that he had to face contrasting it with how important is to be literate. Throughout the entire excerpt we find that the masters consistently seek to deprive their slaves of knowledge to make it so that the slaves cannot even comprehend of being free. Ignorance runs deep in the veins of the slave community, especially in their lack of knowledge of themselves, their ability to read and write, and the repercussions when their ignorance lessens.
We discover that Douglass lived in Masters Hugh’s house for seven years.In the beginning, Douglass was taught his ABC’S first by his Mistress, however she started to have the same feelings her husband did towards slavery. Where she once would encourage Douglass’ learning, she quickly tried to stop it at any cost. He writes, “Nothing seemed to make her more angry than to see me with a newspaper. She seemed to think that here lay the danger’. The Mistress’ is threatened by his newly acquired ability to read because he will no longer understand what he sees or hears but also anything he chooses to read. “ She was an apt women; and a little experience soon demonstrated, to her satisfaction, that education and slavery were incompatible with each other.”Douglass’ determination he possessed gives him the need to terminate his ignorance. He is given an opportunity to move himself out of slavery and build a life for himself. Douglass is persistent in gaining and keeping his ability to read and write.
Throughout the excerpt, Frederick speaks on the burden of his knowledge, but no matter how it affects you knowledge is the key to becoming free. Knowledge can be seen everywhere. As he writes, “Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seeing in everything. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of wretched condition”.
Although Douglass found himself regretting his own existence, and wishing he was dead he states that, “I consoled myself with the hope that I should one day find a good chance [to escape]. Meanwhile, I would learn to write”.
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