Frederick Douglass: Learning To Read And Write

Improved Essays
Frederick Douglass: Learning to Read and Write Learning to Read and Write by Frederick Douglass is an account of what it was like to gain knowledge after being a slave in 19th century America. He speaks of his life as a young slave trying to learn how to read and write without a teacher. He touches on how learning the power of knowledge would at times feel like it “had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given [him] a view of his wretched condition, without the remedy” (Douglass). This is a reference to how he learned that being a slave was immoral, but since he was black, he could not fix this problem. Douglass had to learn how to read and write in an atypical way which makes his story more intriguing and eye-opening to those who take being literate for granted. He mentions that after slavery, his “natural elasticity was crushed” and that his “cheerful spark that lingered about [his] eye died” (Douglass). These quotes show how reading brings knowledge …show more content…
An example of this is when she recalls “the day that [she] became colored … [she] was not Zora of Orange County anymore, [she] was now a little colored girl” (Neale Hurston). This line means that when she moved from the racist south, full of Jim Crow laws that stripped away her rights, she was just thrown into the category of being another black person and because of this, would be stereotyped. Hurston also used metaphor to convey her thoughts such as hearing an orchestra and describing it as “rambunctious… with primitive fury”, which means the music and culture carried raw power (Neale Hurston). Zora’s purpose for writing this essay was to show and express her love for her own culture and color of her skin. The purpose was met and since then, society has become accepting and loving to racial and cultural

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    According to “Learning to Read,” Frederick Douglass grew up in a time when slaves were not educated in fear that they would revolt on their slaveowners. Once Douglass secretly learned to read and write, he was able to read books like The Columbian Orator. A dialogue between a slave and his master discussing their argument of slavery ended up in the slave’s emancipation. Being informed on pro- and antislavery issues, abolition, and free African Americans in the north, drove Douglass crazy. “I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing.…

    • 1176 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    This meant that slaves were going against their masters’ word, Douglass says “learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing” (Douglass, 35), and slaves found themselves in brutal situations. As a result, slaves who didn’t follow the movement were safe, afraid, and made the process slower but those who did had an advantage in the community. After all, Douglass like a great deal of slaves found methods to deceive their masters by learning, and Douglass says “I wished to learn how to write, as I might have occasion to write my own pass” (Douglass, 37). Education made those ideas to slaves for freedom so it becomes evident how valuable education is. By learning their capability of being brilliant allows them to be equal instead of ignorant and clueless as their masters…

    • 1892 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The institution of slavery was “stinging” Douglass and the thousands of slaves with whom he shared his fate. He was unable to recognize the source of these stings until he read The Columbian Orator, which “enabled [him] to utter [his] thoughts” (229). Until this point, the metaphorical insects were intangible, and although Douglass could feel the pain, he was unable to describe the cause of his hardship. In the same way, Douglass’s contrarian ideas are hidden in his writing; a bias against slavery exists but is difficult to pinpoint at first glance. Ironically, as he vividly describes the pain he lived through on a daily basis, Douglass claims the anguish he endures is “unutterable” (230).…

    • 1068 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    To eliminate the n-work form the original text in order to appease readers who may be angered by the repeated usage of the n-word would take away the true meaning of the novel. The word “nigger” was commonly used during the mid-1800s by Americans. During this time educated or uneducated Americans used the n-word. The word is used to highlight or emphasize the racism of the time. People today cannot fully understand why “nigger” was used back then I if they really knew how it was like to be a slave, then they would know how slaves were addressed.…

    • 770 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This shows that since the slave was uneducated there was nothing she could do to hinder what was she was expected from her. The knowledge Douglass gained during his time being a slave, helped him discover many aspects about slavery that made him regret learning. After understanding inequality in society, Frederick Douglass came to the conclusion that ignorance is bliss. Douglass stated “As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing…In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity”. Learning to read and write was not all marvelous.…

    • 1366 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The book “The Columbian Orator” brought him attention to understand the rights of human being and help him to acknowledge the inequalities of being a slave (chp 7). Knowledge helped him recognize himself as men instead of as a slave and articulate the injustice of slavery, but he was unable to find a way escaping from slavery. In chapter 10, when he was working in Covery’s plantation, he lost his hope and desire to learn and escape under covery’s brutal treatment. Douglass’s successfully fought back to Covery’s brutal beatings, and terrified his master which set as the climax of the story. This showed slaves should take action and fight what they believed is injustice, which is more important and effective than the people who had knowledge but afraid to speak out the injustice of slavery.…

    • 820 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    There is a correlation between the ‘bondage of the mind’ and the ‘bondage of the body’ in regards to slavery. Therefore, slavery and education were incompatible with each other (p. 22). Slave owners felt it was imperative to shield slaves from having an ethical and intellectual vision. Therefore, destroying the power of reason, starving their minds, and causing slaves not to perceive the inconsistencies in slavery. Slave owners feared that if their slaves learned to read or write, they would feel liberated mentally, in turn causing them to yearn and aspire to be freed physically.…

    • 2110 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    When Douglass 's master from Baltimore caught his wife teaching him how to read he explained the dangers of teaching a slave. The slave will come to resent his situation, which will result in his discontent, thus eventually becoming unmanageable. After overhearing the Auld 's conversation, Douglass internalizes Auld 's words and values them as his ticket to freedom. Douglass narrates, "I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty‐‐to wit, the white manʹs power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly.…

    • 1049 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Introduction: Frederick douglass was a former slave ,he thought that slavery corrupt slave master and was bad for slavery frederick douglass wanted freedom for him and his people. Frederick douglass was a slave who wanted to learn how to read and write he soon found out that all slaves could not be able learn. All they need it to do was obey their master but douglass didn’t stop he was brave enough to sneak and give bread to be able to do tutoring and soon he wanted to be free and his people.The context of douglass audience is douglass people who agree with slavery being bad for slaves.The 2 main position the essay will be focus on is how douglass is able to convince everybody that slavery is bad for slaves. The second position is…

    • 735 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Frederick Douglass Duality

    • 1247 Words
    • 5 Pages

    “[B]ut while they relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more painful than the one of which I was relieved”. His identity, before his ability to read, was a slave. He served his master and if he did not, he would be punished. He is now consciously aware of his state, “relieved” of one understanding, but now must face the facts that slavery was wrong. As he read the documents that promoted slavery, he was able to express how wrong it was.…

    • 1247 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays