Frederick Douglass "How I Learned to Read and Write" Essay

940 Words Jan 16th, 2011 4 Pages
Frederick Douglass "How I Learned to Read and Write" During the 1800’s, the institution of slavery was still ongoing in the few slave states left in America. Slavery was still proving to be unjust and unfair, not allowing for African Americans to be considered equals. However, some slaves were able to overcome the many restrictions and boundaries that slavery forced upon them. In Frederick Douglass’ essay “Learning to Read and Write,” Douglass portrays himself as an intelligent and dignified slave who’s able to overcome the racial boundaries placed upon him. Frederick Douglass saw that his only pathway to freedom was through literacy, so his goal was to learn how to read and write no matter the circumstances. Douglass realized …show more content…
However, Douglass had already taken the first step in his eager pursuit to literacy. Douglass’ quest for literacy led him to use various stratagems in order to learn how to read. Douglass had already gained command of the alphabet, so he devised a plan to become friends with poor white children whom he met on errands and to use them as teachers. He paid for his reading lessons with pieces of bread. By meeting at various times and places, he had finally succeeded in learning to read. With the little money he had earned doing errands, he bought a copy of The Columbian Orator (The common text for schools in New England at the time). Douglass was particularly interested in a dialogue in The Columbian Orator, one pertaining to a slave being emancipated after trying to escape for the third time. The dialogue consisted of a conversation between the master and the slave. The slave had proven he was intelligent with the smart and impressive replies to the master in the dialogue, thus leading to the emancipation of the slave on behalf of the master. Douglass learned the morality of the power of truth over conscience in the dialogue, which made him envious. The more Frederick Douglass learned, the more slavery became a burden. Douglass had become more aware of the unjustness of slavery and the social forces placed upon his people because of it. Knowingly, Douglass was determined to overcome these social forces and become a freed slave.

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