Essay on Learning to Read and Write

1174 Words Mar 30th, 2013 5 Pages
Alana Roberts
Essay I
February 26th, 2013 “Learning to Read and Write” by Fredrick Douglas is a story about a slave breaking the bondage of ignorance by learning to read and write. During the course of 7 years Douglas discreetly teaches himself to read and write by means of stealing newspapers, trading food with poor white boys for knowledge and books, as well as copying his master’s handwriting. Douglas learning to read gave him extreme awareness of his condition as he says “…I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy” (Page 168-169). With his new consciousness he suffered with depression envying his fellow slaves for their
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The church dominated everyone’s lives using fear as a means of getting whatever they wanted from its believers. From a very early age, the people were taught that the only way they could get to Heaven was if the Roman Catholic Church approved them. Just like slaves of America many people could not read or write which kept the priests in power. Peasants worked for free on the church land to pay their tithe or to not have the burden of total damnation. The hypocrisy of Christians of the South exemplifies his mistress who he described before as “Having bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach” (Page 167). Under the influence of slavery the angelical woman he knew turned into that of a demon in her conquest to prove her superiority over him. With praying to white Jesus not working, Douglas expresses a vulnerable side when talking about contemplating suicide. “I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself…” (Page 169). To counter this feeling of hopelessness he birthed a new objective, find the meaning of the word abolition and how it related to himself. Douglas speaks on his ignorance as he writes “ It was always used in such connections as to make it an interesting word to me…I found it was “the act of abolishing”; but then I did

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