Importance Of Education In Frederick Douglass

Great Essays
From the beginning of Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass faces racial segregation, especially in education. Douglass isn't allowed basic information, like who is his father, because he is born a slave "the means of knowing was withheld from me" (1). Observing a lifetime of wrongdoings, Frederick Douglas writes his life story from the perspective of a self-taught slave as an argument to all of those who support slavery, that argument being slavery is wrong. Frederick Douglass makes his argument compelling by exposing the means of knowing; education is the great equalizer and the absence of education and knowledge fosters enslavement while to enslave, one has to be taught how since it is not innate.

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As Douglass sails towards his birthplace to be valued as property for Master Andrew and Mrs. Lucretia after his old master died, his feelings of disgust towards slavery arise again to which he states "I had now a new conception of my degraded condition" (27). Before this, Douglass lives in Baltimore teaches himself how to read and write with the absence of burdens on a plantation. Douglass enjoys basic freedoms within Baltimore "A city slave is almost a freeman, compared with a slave on the plantation" (21), but he is then shipped to become valued like he is nothing more than property. Douglass knows what basic freedom feels like from his time within Baltimore, and for him to get pushed back towards the full imprisonment of slavery on such a short notice allows for a contrast between what he knows he deserves and what he is receiving. Douglass's statement implies that before this moment when he was actually enslaved on a plantation, he is never given the knowledge that he is in a place less than what is rightfully humane. Slaves are unaware of the intense misdeeds they receive daily since they have no other knowledge of what it means to be treated fairly, in their positions of ignorance they do not know how mistreated they are. As Douglass tries to survive under the reign of Mr. Covey, the slave breaker, he reaches an absolute low where Mr. Covey breaks him. Douglass's yearning for more knowledge, which aligns itself with freedom, turns to nothingness, "the disposition to read departed" (38) to which later Douglass states "you have seen how a man was made a slave[...]"(39). Mr. Covey knows that to break a man and reduce him to a slave, he has to rid him of his want of knowledge and make it a secondary priority. When one has no desire for knowledge,

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