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Abolition of Slavery

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The story of Douglas had twofold actions: it was a type of protest literature over slavery, and at the same time it showed and persuaded the readers that Douglas had been transformed and was no longer a slave. One of the ways in which Douglas established this transformation was through the creation of complex narrative structures such us the use of two “I’s. On one of the “I’s Douglas was a slave and in the other “I” he was a writer and a free man. The tension between these two narrators gave the complexity .through illustration of change through which Douglas had undergone. He, for example, described his experience of past slavery in the position of a free man. Throughout the narrative Douglas provided several examples of the way he managed to acquire literacy skills, despite the many attempts by the southern whites to deny him the access. One vivid example was when Douglas mistress Auld was caught by her husband teaching the alphabet to Douglas. It was during the witnessing process when Douglas clearly understood that the white southerners used illiteracy to maintain power against the African American (Bloom, 85). It was this realization that Douglas knew the route to freedom from slavery. That was the only thing he needed and got it at the time when he least expected. From that day, Douglas realized that literacy was equivalent to both consciousness and freedom. As from that day, Douglas made it his goal to learn the much he could, and he finally determined to write, a tool that gave him his passport to freedom. Despite the high literacy levels of Douglas works which were quite similar to autobiographies written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Davis Thoreau, and Benjamin Franklin, while trying to portray the true self-made American identity, some critics have seen some limitations in his work. The example in the first place: while making the two Afro-American traditions, Deborah views Douglas narrative as a representation of the African American women. He finds out that they have a lot to be desired. The story depicts many of the women as victims of sexual abuse for the white men, and they don’t have the ability to change their circumstances like Douglas had (Bloom, 45). McDowell’s argued that the slave narrator in Douglas work witnessed as the African American women were brutally whipped many times to an extent that he entered into a symbolic complicity with the witnessed sexual crimes. In a few words, through observation of constant repetition of the violent acts, in the Douglas narratives, he also participated in the act of viewing women as objects (Crisp, 67). Other critics like Moses Wilson noted that within the limitations of the slave genre, Douglas was forced to write his narrative in a form which made it socially accepted by the white liberals. It’s produced the myths of successful white people. His story of rags to riches is a symbol of American individualism myth, symbolized by ideal beliefs of altruism, self-sacrifice, and American communism (Douglass, 65).

Despite these few limitations, the general power of the Fredrick Douglas narratives even though they were written more than 150 years it is among the most famous older African American literal texts whose method of slavery depiction cannot be forgotten that quickly. Beyond enjoying freedom, Douglas dedicated his entire life to the core principles that struggle was an important step for achieving progress. He had the desire for making the world a just place which made him struggle for the abolition of slavery. The narrative also provided hope regarding self-made, courageous figure of Fredrick Douglas, a man free from slavery.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Print.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa, and James Ransome. Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass. New York: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 2012. Print.

Crisp, Jane, Kay Ferres, and Gillian Swanson. Deciphering Culture Ordinary Curiosities and Subjective Narratives. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Print.

Douglass, Frederick, Alyssa Harad, and Cynthia Johnson. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New York: Pocket, 2004. Print.


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