Douglass learning to read and write
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick DouglassThank you Mr. Douglass…this was a life changer for me. You are a true American hero and the fact that there are not more monuments, government buildings, holidays or other commemorations of your life seems to me an oversight of epic proportions.
How often is it that you can honestly say that you’ll never be the same after reading a book? Well, this life story of a singular individual has changed me....irrevocably. I will never be able to sufficiently express my gratitude to Mr. Douglass for that extraordinary gift of insight. I’m just not sure how to properly express how deeply this story impacted me both with its content and its delivery. Impressive seems such a shallow word. I guess I will call it a unique and special experience and simply state that this autobiography has been added to my list of All Time Favorites .
Being a fan of history, in general, and American history, in particular, I was somewhat familiar with Frederick Douglass and his reputation for being a great orator and a tireless opponent of slavery. However, this is the first time I’ve actually read any of his writings and I was blown away, utterly, by the intellect, character and strength of this American hero. And make no mistake, this man was a HERO in every sense of the word. I can imagine few people in a generation with the combination of intelligence, strength of character, sense of morality, charity and indomitable will as Frederick Douglass.
Here is a man who, as a slave with little or no free time to himself, spent every spare moment he had teaching himself to read and write. Think about that. In a very telling passage, Douglass says that he knew how important it was to educate himself because of how vehemently his master was opposed to it. I’m paraphrasing, but his message was, ‘What my master saw as the greatest evil, I knew to be a perfect good.’ Such determination and clarity of thought boggles the mind. Rarely have a come across a person whose moral fiber I admire more (John Adams being the other historical figure that jumps to mind).
On the issue of slavery itself, I am resolved that there could be no better description of the horrendous evil of slavery than this book. I previously read Uncle Toms Cabin and, while an important novel, that story had nowhere near the effect on me that this one did. Again, thank you Mr. Douglass.
While there are many aspects of the narrative that are worthy of note (the quality of prose, the excellent balance between details and pace and the fascinating events described), the most memorably impressive thing to me was the tone used by Frederick Douglass to describe his life and the people he came in contact with during his time both as a slave and after securing his freedom. Despite having seen and personally endured staggering brutality at the hands of white slave owners, Douglass never, NEVER comes across as bitter or hate-filled towards all white people. Had I been in his position, I am not sure I could have been so charitable with my outlook.
He speaks frankly and in stark terms about the evil and brutality suffered by himself and his fellow slaves. He sees great wrong and he confronts it boldly with his writing. However, he never generalizes people beyond his indictment of slavery and slave holders. He doesn’t stereotype or extend his anger beyond those whom he rightfully condemns. That is a person of great strength and even greater charity. The dignity of the man is humbling to behold.
After finishing this inspirational, never-be-the-same autobiography, Frederick Douglass has joined my pantheon of American heroes right along side George Washington and John Adams. I plan to read further works by Douglass and can not more strenuously urge others to do the same.
6.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
As Self- Reading: "Learning to Read and Write" by Frederick Douglass
Learning to Read and Write by Frederick Douglass
The piece tells of the troubles and repercussions that reading and writing bestowed on Douglass. His sentences are very direct and to the point; it is not difficult to decipher what he is trying to say. These are fairly short sentences, each one getting straight to his point. Douglass does not include over-the-top imagery and descriptions, but he includes just enough to allow the reader to picture what he was experiencing. This description aligns with his direct and simple style, but offers enough information to allow the reader to picture what type of woman this mistress was.
Frederick Douglass was an African American social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman.
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