An American Slave By Fredrick Douglass

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An American Slave, written by Fredrick Douglass himself, he wrote his narrative to educate audiences on how slaves were treated by their masters as well as others around them. This narrative encompasses many moments where he tries to persuade his readers to believe what is not only taking place in the story, but to plead with his audience to understand what inhuman conditions they were subjected to. At the very beginning he explains how he not only does not know his age but he does not know who his father is and barley knows of his mother.

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He describes these moments where people are beaten to satisfy not only their need to punish the slaves, but to satisfy their sexual lust. I want to steer away from those heart wrenching moments and highlight the more positive, inspirational, and courageous moment of his tale.

In chapter 7 Frederick sets forth on his journey of learning to read and write. In learning these things he had hopes to gain freedom from his life long sentencing of enslavement. He lived with the Hugh family for 7 years. The mistress of the house, Sophia, whom was kind to him in the beginning, was a soft hearted woman who was always helping another. When Frederick was around the age of 8 Sophia started to teach him his alphabet, and to read small words. When Mr. Hugh became knowledgable of what was taking place he told Sophia to cease the lessons with fear that he would become disobedient. Over time she became cruel and stone hearted. She began to become irate when she would find him with a news paper that she at one time encouraged him to read. He always had to account for his time spent in other parts of the home if he had been out of range for longer than he should have.

When Frederick was asked to go out on errands he would always bring along a book and bread with him. He winds up meeting local poor white boys who in exchange for the bread teach him how to read. They sympathies with him agreeing that he no more deserved to be enslaved than them. As time went by he learned to write as well. He started by copying the letters from the ships at the yard. L A S F were his first letters. He came across some boys and had a writing contest with them to see who could write the best. He practiced on walls, fences, and the ground. He started copying from the dictionary and would write in Thomas Aludr’s discarded books. He would copy the sentences between the empty spaces of the pages.

This moment of the story and ones like this are the moments that make a difference, they show that he overcame the challenges he was faced with and persevered. He had many sections in which he described traumas but what really persuaded me was the fact that he not only succeeded, he never asked for pity. He did not allow his state of momentary deep depression fold him, he made something out of nothing.

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