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Learning to Read and Write: Frederick Douglass’s Journey to Freedom

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 3 (625 words)
Categories: Essay, Frederick Douglass, Narrative Writing
Downloads: 22
Views: 5

In “Learning to Read” Frederick Douglass recounts how he came to read and write under internal and external challenges. Douglass also shows the effect that reading and writing bestowed upon him. By recounting his difficult self-educating experience, Douglass exposes how the slavery system ruins both the slaves and slaveholders. Not only does slavery destroy the dignity and right that slaves could access to knowledge it also takes away the conscience of the slaveholders. In “Learning to Read” Frederick Douglass recounts his difficult self-educating experience under the slavery system to expose the damage slavery does to both slaveholders and slaves.

By using the logos, pathos, and ethos, application of the direct tone, and the chronological structure of the text, Douglass effectively describes how he became literate and the struggle situation he came through which eventually, aims at inspiring other slaves to have faith that they could become free in the future.

Douglass uses the tool of pathos to arouse his audience, which is mostly black slaves’ emotions.

By describing the challenges he had come through, Douglass makes his audience feel shamed and angered by the slavery system. Besides, the experience of self-educating could warm the hearts of other slaves. Despite the obstacles in the way to knowledge, it is still possible for the black slaves to be able to read and write. It is a comfort and an inspiration to the slaves who are not literate people. As the author, Douglass is an educated and free black man and a leader in the abolitionist movement. The narration based on his true story undoubtedly enhanced the external credibility of the article.
By acknowledging his mistress was a good woman before, the intrinsic ethos is strengthened. Douglass did not just criticize all the slaveholders and white people but admitted that there were some warm-hearted and kind people among them. The objective evaluation enhanced the credibility of his article.

By offering the exact name of his master and the book which led him to change his stance on slavery and act upon it, Douglass uses the appeal of logos to support his argument.

The piece is written in a chronicled timeline. The whole text begins with the hostess teaching him to read, and develops into Douglass yearning for reading despite his obstacles. It ends with the natural transition from learning to read to learn to write. The order of the articles is consistent with the logic and the normal learning process of a learner. When Douglass describes the impacts that reading bought him, he uses both “bless” and “curse”. Although these two words seem to contradict each other, in the following passage, Douglas explains in detail why reading had such a dual impact on him. The language of the text is direct and easy to understand. Although he didn’t use fancy words, he always hit the nail on the head in his narrative. It meets the need of the primary audience since most slaves are not literate people. Douglas’s character is also gradually formed in the article. From the ignorance at the beginning to the careful thinking in the face of the Irishmen urging him to escape, we can see the positive impact of reading on him.

In the excerpt “Learning to Read”, by using the three rhetorical devices, pathos, ethos, and logos, combined with some other literate elements, Frederick Douglass effectively persuaded his audience who are the American slaves and white Americans show the significance of learning and to inform how evil slavery is to both slaves and slaveholders. However, the excerpt could not be written in the chronicle timeline. If Douglass uses more foreshadowing or flashbacks, this self-educating experience would be more interesting. Does this plain description really arouse other slaves’ interests and inspire them to read?

Cite this essay

Learning to Read and Write: Frederick Douglass’s Journey to Freedom. (2020, Oct 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/learning-to-read-and-write-frederick-douglasss-journey-to-freedom-essay

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