Literacy Within Slavery Essay

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The Significance of Literacy within Slavery "You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man" (Douglass 65). In his autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass discusses his experiences as a slave and how he uses education in his journey to become a free man. Throughout his autobiography, Douglass uses logical appeals showing why literacy was withheld from slaves, emotional appeals illustrating how slavery corrupted his mistress ' mind, and ethical appeals showing how he used literacy to overcome slavery. These anecdotes illustrate that literacy allowed Douglass to further realize the injustices of slavery, which helped him to free himself from an inferior mindset and …show more content…
When he arrived at the home of the Aulds, he was first embraced by Mrs. Auld with kindness and warmth. She began to teach him to read then abruptly stopped, which was her first act of malice. Douglass recalls, "When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender‐hearted woman... Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger‐like fierceness"(28). Douglass ' retrospection of his mistress 's change of heart at the hands of slavery conveys as an emotional appeal because it evokes a feeling of disappointment. Douglass is disappointed that his mistress has let slavery corrupt her mind and allow her to become mean and cruel, as opposed to how she was at their introduction. This further warrants Douglass 's consciousness of the injustices of slavery because the first white person who had shown him any amiability had shown a complete change in demeanor at the hands of slavery. Mrs. Auld 's change in temperament after ceasing in the instruction of Douglass further ignites his desire to acquire literacy because he now held it as his chief route to …show more content…
Douglass attained his literacy by first being taught the alphabet by his mistress, then eventually teaching himself to spell his own name, and finally tricking young white boys in his neighborhood into teaching him new words. Following these events, Douglass was eventually able to escape the chains of slavery by pretending to be a free, African American sailor. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison writes in the preface of the autobiography, "It is certainly a very remarkable fact, that one of the most efficient advocates of the slave population, now before the public, is a fugitive slave, in the person of FREDERICK DOUGLASS"(4). Through including a preface written by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass is able to effectively use an ethical appeal to his audience because Garrison is able to grant him credibility in that he became literate, escaped slavery, and lived to tell the tale. Douglass is also credible because through obtaining literacy, he was able to free himself from an inferior mindset. Years after leaving the Aulds in Baltimore, Douglass was sent to live and work for Mr.Covey in order to break Douglass 's spirit and make him a "manageable" slave. Douglass and Covey got into a fight, to Douglass 's avail. Douglass narrates, "I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day

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