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Self-knowledge and outside knowledge are parallel to each other but at the same time there are differences between the two. Self-knowledge is having knowledge of your own qualities, character, abilities and emotions. For example, knowing that you are a friendly person is self-knowledge. Outside knowledge is knowledge you gain by the experiences that you have in life. Reading is one way that you could gain outside knowledge. Outside knowledge can sometimes have an influence on your self-knowledge. As you go through life and experience new things your self-knowledge and outside knowledge tend to clash.
There were three literary works that showed how self-knowledge and outside knowledge complements each other and how they don’t always agree with one another. Three works were: Narrative of Fredrick Douglass, The Little Black Boy and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. By reading these literary works, we can see the type of relationship that self-knowledge and outside knowledge tend to have. The characters in these readings all go through different situations in life both good and bad that allows us to see how self-knowledge and outside knowledge can come together.
In Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, he couldn’t deliberate on how he truly felt about slavery and other things that he experienced in his early life. Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery which made his self-knowledge and outside knowledge different from the other slaves. Once Douglass became knowledgeable, he gained power and freedom of the written word. Things that Douglass experienced in his life contributed to the way he thought, he was an abolitionist 100%.
Even though some of his work was mostly political, he mentioned to religion just as much. Douglass felt like a slave owner couldn’t be a Christian as well because it was ethically wrong. Douglass had a strong sense of self-knowledge and it showed because he continuously went against the common practices during that era.
In the poem, The Little Black Boy, a young black boy begins to learn who is as a person and starts to build a relationship with God for the first time. In the poem, the boy refers to his soul as being white but his skin black. That statement displayed that even with all the racial problems existing, he knew that in the eyes of God, he would still be accepted into the spirit world regardless of the color of his skin. The young boy was able to conclude that he wasn’t the same as the white boy that he was sitting with which is an example of self-knowledge.
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano showed examples of outside knowledge. Equiano experienced a few things in his life that sketched his outside knowledge. Unlike Douglass who was born into slavery, Equiano was abducted into slavery a young age. He was challenged with many ups and downs that that led to his understanding and attitude towards life. Many of his writings focused on abolishing the practice of slavery. Since Equiano was a slave at one point in his life, his interpretations of slavery were fairly different from others that had not experienced what he did. He did a lot of traveling and experienced many things which eventually led to him becoming an active participant of the abolishment movement. Equiano was different because he not only fought for the equality of blacks but whites as well. Everything that he went through influenced the things that he wrote about. Once he gained outside knowledge, his self-knowledge began to change. He believed that he could achieve anything regardless of what the world told him he couldn’t do because of the color of his skin. He knew that he wasn’t like the other slaves and the fact that he had an education was what made him different. Equiano knew that with an education he was worth something. He gained his outside knowledge from literacy and education.
The things that we go through and the lessons that we learn in life play a big part in the growth and understanding of who we truly are. The way that we choose to deal with our self-knowledge and outside knowledge when they clash are important. The decisions we make during these times play a part in the way we see ourselves and our values. It’s acceptable to trust your self-knowledge, you don’t have to accept the things that the people around you tell you about yourself.
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