Rhetorical Analysis of Frederick Douglass's "How I Learned to Read and Write"

1442 Words Feb 15th, 2014 6 Pages
Rhetorical Analysis of Douglass

In the excerpt “Learning to Read and Write”, Frederick Douglass talks about his experiences in slavery living in his masters house and his struggle to learn how to read and write. Frederick Douglass was an African American social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman. Some of his other writings include “The Heroic Slave”, “My Bondage and My Freedom”, and “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”. In this excerpt, Frederick Douglass uses an empathic tone, imagery, certain verb choice, contrast, and metaphors to inform African Americans of how important it is to learn to read and write and also to inform a white American audience of the evils of slavery. I find Frederick Douglass to
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He explains how her doing so made it hard for him to read because she would always get angry whenever she would see him holding a book. He then describes how he would become friends with the poor white kids so that they would help him learn how to read. Once he has learned to read, he starts to understand more of what is going on around him and he doesn’t like it. He begins to envy the ignorance of his fellow slaves. He meets two white men who encourage him to run away to the north to be free. Frederick considers it, but he wants to learn how to write first. He concludes this excerpt by describing how he learned to write by being in a ship-yard and also by daring the white kids that he knew more letters than them, tricking them into teaching him more letters. There wasn’t any flashbacks or foreshadowing in this excerpt. He went from beginning to end. If Frederick Douglass did decide to use any literary time elements such as foreshadowing and flashbacks, it could have made this excerpt a bit more interesting. Although, the chronological order did just fine. Frederick Douglass’s main claim to his argument of the importance of slaves learning how to read and write is the fact that without that knowledge, slaves would just remain ignorant to the things happening around him. They would have to rely on other people’s words instead of their own. With slaves being ignorant to their surroundings, it would be impossible for them to grow

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