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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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ricky apker

on 14 November 2013

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Transcript of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass promotes the ideals of freedom by using amplitudes of antithesis, understatement, and irony in his writing. “They were frequently whipped when least deserving it, and escaped whipping when most deserving it”. The antithesis in this sentence shows the randomness of the punishment of slaves. The order of the words in the sentence is reversed, just as the punishment standards for the slaves are somewhat reversed. It seems backwards that they would be whipped for doing nothing yet avoid punishment when they were in the wrong, and the sentence structure highlights this backwards logic. Frederick Douglass also uses understatements multiple times when he is being whipped or hurt by his owners and brushes it off like its nothing even though he compares his scars with the extremes of other slaves he’s seen and lived with in the past. Irony is also used in the text during chapter three “The slightest inattention to these was unpardonable, and was visited upon those, under whose care they were placed, with severest punishment; no excuse could shield them”. Douglass is showing how one of his former masters, Colonel Lloyd, gave his horses much more attention than he did his slaves, and if the slaves made any tiny mistake while caring for the horses they would be severely punished.
Frederick Douglass changed the nationalistic set of values through his individual actions by using his own life experiences as guidelines. When he was about to be sold away to his masters son and daughter, and they cared more about the value of the horses more than they did that of the slaves and their age or health. He does it again when he goes to an abolitionist convention and tells the highlights of his life’s story, making thousands, even the president (Lincoln) think better of him. He is now considered a symbol for future black nationalism because of the way he has dealt with slavery throughout his life, as well as how well he handled the issue of slavery compared to others.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
By: Ricky Apker
Collin Herd

 How does Frederick Douglass use rhetoric throughout his narrative to promote the ideals of freedom?
 Frederick Douglass, being a former slave and escapee, promotes the ideals of freedom in his novel, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, through vague and precise examples of his own experiences. In describing his thoughts on the subject of the morality of slavery, he explains that his owners are “…a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land [reduced] us to slavery,” thus expressing through imagery the unfairness of essentially kidnapping hundreds of thousands of people solely to imprison them for labor (Douglass 24). Douglass continues his claim by expressing the sorrow he felt after coming to the realization that he was to be a slave for the entirety of his life. He reasons that if the credibility of white men is to be upheld, freedom should be granted to those whom they have enthralled.
How does Frederick Douglass use rhetoric throughout his narrative to illustrate the evils of slavery? According to Douglass, what were some of the effects of slavery upon the enslaved? Upon the slaveholder?
To what extent was Frederick Douglass able to change the national set of values through his individual actions?
Why was Douglass’ narrative considered “radical” when published? Is it still?
Douglass’ narrative was considered radical when it was published because during the time that it was published it was unnatural. The narrative was aimed at non-abolitionists, to try and show them the cruelties of slavery, and convert them to be abolitionists, and make them stand up for black slaves to be included in the United States as normal people.
 In the novel The Narrative of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, how is education related to human freedom? Why is universal education necessary for a free society?

In his narrative, Frederick Douglass insists that the key to his own personal freedom was education. He infers that without proper schooling, even the strongest of men can be imprisoned solely by their own insolence. This, ironically, is his source of despair and sorrow throughout the final chapters of his book. He explains that enlightenment “had given [Douglass] a view of [his] wretched condition, without the remedy,” making him miserable knowing what freedom could be, while at the same time providing him with the tools necessary to escape his captors. The same can be said for education everywhere. Universal education is necessary for a free society in that everyone will know their endowed rights and could not be cheated out of them, thus avoiding the idea of enslavement due to insolence altogether.
 How did the South justify slavery?
Slave owners in the South justified their treatment of their slaves by declaring them property. This ensured that the legislative government would preserve them and keep them under whichever owner they belonged to; such was the policy of that time.
Krohn, Raymond James. "Rights of Slave Owners." Gale Library of Daily Life: Slavery in America. Ed. Orville Vernon Burton. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2008. 72-74. U.S. History in Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
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