Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass's My Bondage And My Freedom

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Frederick Douglass wrote the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass ten years before the publication of his later work, My Bondage and My Freedom. Between the writing of the two books, Douglass changed his perspective on slavery entirely in that he decided that the nature of the United States Constitution was a primarily anti-slavery document rather than pro-slavery. His writing adapted to his new view on slavery and how it should be handled in that he began to take on a more forceful, active voice in his writing. Between the two works, Douglass transforms from an emotionally driven writer to an assertive writer, which is reflected by the growth in his statements about slavery, his use of language, and his rhetorical strategy. Douglass’ …show more content…
In the Narrative, he addresses the idea that slaves are equal to animals in an ironic way, which helps him to establish his image as a simple slave. He writes about the colonel and his animals when he says, “His stable and carriage-house presented the appearance of some of our large city livery establishments. His horses were of the finest form and noblest blood” (Douglass 10). This is ironic because the colonel apparently takes specific care of his horses, which receive the best housing and provisions. On the other hand, the slaves are mistreated and they live in practically unlivable circumstances. By describing this information, Douglass points to the idea that slaves were lesser than even the animals on plantations. It is ironic that even the animals in this story receive better treatment than the slaves, themselves. This establishes his credibility as a slave because this ironic example sets the standard for slave life very low and Douglass continues to play the part of the simple slave for a majority of his first novel. This credibility, however, becomes more philosophical in his later novel. In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass makes sure to accentuate his education and philosophy despite being advised against doing so. He writes about Friend Foster and says, “People won’t believe you ever was a slave, Frederick, if you keep on this way…’tis not best that you seem too learned” (Douglass 367). It is interesting that Douglass chose to depict Friend Foster, his white friend, in this way, which was not accidental. Foster’s way of speaking is grammatically incorrect, utilizing words such as “tis” and “you ever was,” which contrasts with Douglass’ typically lyrical speech. This poses Douglass as the more educated person in the conversation, despite the fact that he is black and his friend is white.

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