In the autobiography by Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, he recounts his upbringing as a slave in America.
Frederick began his youth suffering numerous hardships; from not being able to see his mother directly after birth, to witnessing his slave master whip his aunt until she was covered in blood, as well as being sold off to people as if he was some type of item. He overcomes these hardships and manipulations with the power of education, which was bestowed upon him by his second slave master’s wife Mrs. Sophia Auld. As a result of gaining knowledge, Frederick Douglass discovers a method of escape and flees from his slave masters grasp to obtain his independence. The ultimate moral of this story is that the power of education was his key to freedom, and his story showcases how white slaveholders utilized this ability by keeping their slaves oblivious to what was truly happening to them and their people.Frederick Douglass accurately utilized literary devices to make his narrative not only more vivid but to convey to readers the horrors of what occurred during these times.
Douglass utilizes metaphor, symbolism, and imagery to give an accurate portrayal. A prime example of this is when he utilizes metaphor and imagery in chapter five when he states “feet being so cracked with the frost, that the pen which he is writing might be laid in the gashes.” This accurately portrays the way slaves are truly being treated and how poorly the white man treated them. Another example would be in chapter ten when he presents his change from slave to man when he states “Mr.
Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me, and behold a man transformed into a brute!” Through the use of metaphor and imagery, he expresses this transformation in this moment, the realization that this man physically and mentally broke him, and then he took his stand and fought Covey back to ensure that he is a human and he deserves the same freedoms that Covey has. He even states goes on to state,”At this moment, I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both slave and slaveholder.
“(Douglass). In the past two quotes mentioned in this paper, he utilized the word “brute” in order to convey the message that these slaves are suffering this brutalism but also the slave owners as brutes themselves for believing in this and overlooking the fact that they are human just like them. Mr.
Auld inadvertently demonstrates to Douglass, why it’s vital that slaves be kept uneducated. His wife, Sophia Auld, was never a slave owner, therefore she began treating Frederick with kindness, which resulted in her providing him with the ability to learn. As a result of Mr.Auld, Sophia became cruel to Douglass. In chapter 6, Douglass stated: “”Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world.
Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.” These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain.
I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty–to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man.” If slaves made sense of how to read or write, Auld could never again control a slave. A slave would then become aware of what being a slave means. Mr. Auld’s believed that this would “ruin” him because his entire enterprise of being a slave owner would disappear.
Douglass understood this and how the slave masters prevent their slaves from revolting and escaping, which can be seen also in chapter 6 when he states, “From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.” He was then able to achieve the one thing Mr.Auld feared the most which were escaping.
Since education is important to Douglass’s growth, as an individual, the true reason he is even writing the narrative is to showcase the final step he took to become free. This is showcased when the story ends with Douglass writing the book itself.Even after Douglass begins to learn from Sophia he is determined to learn more. By this time he has learned the ABC’s and wishes to learn how to utilize this skill so he gives bread to the local white boys in exchange for lessons on how to read. He read everything that he was able to read. One book the “The Columbian Orator” a book with lessons on education, public speaking, and language provided him the knowledge about philosophical thought from the Greeks and Latins. This was one of the beginning books that gave him a foundation about human rights and freedom. This connection he made with this book only better prepared him for what he would become known as today, a hero.
His dedication to reaching towards education inspired the United States to realize the power knowledge can do for someone but to also see slaves as humans. Moreover, this was one of the first steps that lead to equal opportunity for African Americans to be able to obtain an education and to finally be free. Sadly, education is still something that lacks in our world, especially free education. “By 2015, there will be more children out of school than there is today unless the richest countries dramatically increase the aid they give to the poorest nations” (Shepard). Most developing countries simply cannot afford to provide the amount of education that rich countries provide. What is astonishing is that we are in 2017 and in “third world” countries such as Haiti, the amount of students that attend school today is 57%, while only 30% make it past the 6th grade.
(Facts about Haiti) Since education is a method of freedom, how can the people in these poor nations truly be free? Rich countries have promised these economically low standing countries that they would help provide more funds to provide stability for their citizens, however, they all have yet to fulfill their end of the deal. Some may ask, how would the rich countries benefit from this? In a recent article from the Guardian, it states: “In 2012, the last year of recorded data, developing countries received a total of $1.3tn, including all aid, investment, and income from abroad. But that same year some $3.3tn flowed out of them.
In other words, developing countries sent $2tn more to the rest of the world than they received.”(Hickel) Much like slavery, the rich countries that trade with these poor nations, the rich countries need them to stay poor in order to rely on these rich countries for trade. If a country is uneducated about this manipulation, and there in a state of poverty, then it is weak and allows these superpower countries to take advantage by allowing money to be moved the way it is as spoken about in the article by Hickel.
Empty promises much like these only lead to suffering much like what these underprivileged, poverty-stricken nations have gone through.Some may say that these nations with power and money do not intend to do this to the lower economic standing countries. It is not as if they have a list of and decide that they will hurt this country on this day. Nevertheless, these nations have been superpowers for centuries, and in cases of promising a poor nation aid and then never delivering it to them, this has been something that has occurred since the dawn of the 19th century when countries like Germany were providing aid to ” to their colonies in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Colonial powers used their money to build infrastructure—ports, roads, railways—and wealthy American industrialists were also involved in development aid through the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.” (The history of foreign aid) If these nations obtain the ability to gain a better education, this sort of abuse would not occur.
Ignorance is the tool for manipulation, and these superpowers utilize it for their present-day form of slavery. It is those “mental shackles” that slaves had worn for so many decades, that allowed the white man their power. These rich nations now creating false promises to the poor nations in order to benefit from their suffering. Those nations and those white slave owners have one thing in common: Greed; and just like what Rusty Eric said: “As long as greed is stronger than compassion there will always be suffering” We face those same shackles in everyday life, tied to an office, a kitchen, a store, or any location where you have to work to obtain a piece of green paper, society labeled as money. Slaves to the dollar.
Sadly, society has even created the stigma where if you do not make a certain amount of wage you are considered to be in a lower class than the rest. In a short story titled “Bartleby: The Scrivener” by Herman Melville, you witness an activist in action against this method of slavery. He was hired by a lawyer on Wall Street to be his scrivener, to diminish the heap of work experienced by his law office. For two days, Bartleby executes his tasks with such skill and gains recognition for his constant good work. Soon after the scrivener starts exhibiting mental irregularity by refusing to edit his work. Instead of listening, he responds with “I would prefer not to,” and just gazes out of the window at an empty wall.
He then remains to stare at the empty wall and then starves himself to death. While this is an extreme method of activism, the main objective was to showcase that he refuses to be a slave to money, and refuses to work under the man. He demonstrated what Fredrick did, resilience. Frederick Douglass was such an influential key figure during the nineteenth century. His advocacy for education and equality between all people aided into creating a better equal society then it was back then, until Trump of course. He was a survivor, and then he became a hero advocating for the liberties African Americans wield today. Through the power of education, he worked towards affecting himself to free by broadening his understanding of things, his examination, and thinking abilities.
In spite of all that he needs to physically escape, clearly, yet it’s his education that gives him the will that helped him achieve what he did. Moreover, while methods of slavery are still in place in present day and manipulation still occurs, these poor nations will rise up one day and fight back. History repeats itself, doesn’t it?