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Copy of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

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ryan pendleton

on 15 December 2012

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Transcript of Copy of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

By Ryan Pendleton And Madison Morris Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave EQ: How does Frederick Douglass use rhetoric throughout his narrative to promote the ideals of freedom? Why were Douglass' narratives
considered "radical" when they were
published? EQ: How does Frederick Douglass use rhetoric throughout his narrative to illustrate the evils of slavery? EQ: Why is universal education
necessary for a free society? How is our understanding of culture and society constructed through and by language? EQ: EQ: How did the South justify slavery? Are they still? "If the lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scripturally enslaved, it is certain that slavery at the south must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who, like myself, owe their existence to white fathers, and those fathers most frequently their own masters" (Douglass 3). "Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness" (Douglass 22). During the life of slavery, the south had one main justification for slaveholding, and this was religion. They believed that the Bible included mentionings of slaves in which they could justify slavery as morally correct. In Frederick's quote, "If the lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scripturally enslaved, it is certain that slavery at the south must soon become unscriptural..." (Douglass 3), he presents us with a biblical references to slavery. Douglass is referring to the Old Testament tale of God cursing Canaan, the son of Ham, for Ham's offense committed against his father Noah. This then became the justification for the enslavement of Africans because they were all seen as the sons of Ham. In another quote given by U.S.history.org, they point toward the Ten Commandments by stating, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house...nor his manservant, nor his maid servant" (U.S.history.org), which provides us for another direct reference to slavery. In Biblical times, slavery was widespread, but Jesus never spoke out against it in the Bible. As, a southern slaveholder, many men used theses ideas as well as biblical proof, to justify their right to own slaves. While many slaveholders saw that slavery could possibly seen as morally wrong, they were not willing to give them up because the slaves were necessary to the success of their plantations, and this also became a justification. With religion as a way to excuse their inhumane behavior, slaveholders continued to keep slaves for many years later until the abolition of slavery in 1865. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house...nor his manservant, nor his maid servant" (U.S.history.org). "At times I would rise up; a flash of energetic freedom would dart through my soul, accompanied with s faint beam of hope" (Douglass 38). "I had as well be killed running, as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes!" (Douglass 39). "But the most astonishing as well as the most interesting to me was the condition of the colored people, a great many of whom, like myself, had escaped thither as a refuge from the hunters of men. I found many, who had not been seven years out of their chains, living in finer houses, and evidently enjoying more of the comforts of life, than the average of slaveholders in Maryland" (Douglass 67). "If you teach that [racial slur] (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" (Douglass 20). "Much of the country, especially the south, had firm laws against educating African Americans in order to protect the institution of slavery" (Doane). "In this context, we document that, given identical service scenarios, Indian accent leads to less favorable service outcomes compared to American and British accents" (Ze, Arndt, Singh, and Biernat). "People who speak different languages do indeed think differently and the even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world" (Boroditsky) In the autobiography “Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass”, Douglass shows rhetoric throughout his work, to help the reader deeply connect with the evils of slavery. Frederick Douglass connects with his audience in this passage, “At times I would rise up, a flash of energetic freedom would dart through my soul, accompanied with a faint beam of hope” (Douglass 38). He shows how in a pit of despair, after finally having seen what freedom looks like at Master Hugh’s house he is able to find hope for his future freedom and let the audience feel the emotions he’s presenting. Frederick Douglass will not give up and become an obedient slave; he fights back for the freedom he deserves and is willing to risk everything for that freedom. Also, in another important passage Frederick states, “I had as well be killed running, as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes!” (Douglass 39). With this statement, Frederick Douglass shows his enthusiasm to be a free man soon, to never have to see the evils of slavery again. Douglass appeals to everyone’s morals, by showing his longing for freedom, and all the privileges and rights obtained by being a free man. Finally, Frederick Douglass clearly shows his surprise about New Bedford and free society when he illustrates his disbelief at the predicament of the former slaves, “But the most astonishing as well as the most interesting thing to me was the condition of the colored people, a great many of whom, like myself, had escaped thither as a refuge from the hunters of men. I found many, who had not been seven years out of their chains, living in finer houses, and evidently enjoying more of the comforts of life, than the average of slaveholders in Maryland” (Douglass 67). Douglass’ disbelief at how former slaves had so much happiness shows his audience clearly how little slaves were respected, treated, and most especially thought of. Douglass shows how very easily, even slaves write off their belief in freedom, when it comes to making a life outside of slavery. This passage shows the disbelief and hope that is accompanied by being free of slavery, Douglass and many other free slaves will never have to answer to a master again, which is what they truly wanted. The autobiography entitled, “Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass”, shows how badly slaves were treated and thought of, while also incorporating the non-existent education allowed by their masters. An illiterate way of life was seen as a way to suppress slaves, making them seem brutish and unintelligent in comparison to their masters. If slaves could read, write and comprehend how equal they truly were to their masters, they would rebel ending the idea of slavery as a whole. Frederick Douglass clearly illustrates this fact, by showing Master Hugh’s reaction to his wife educating Frederick, “If you teach that [bad word] 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” (Douglass 20). With his education started Frederick continued it himself, showing that he would do what was right for him. However, as shown by Fredrick’s detailed encounters with slaves, without education it is easy to repress any gender, race, or even religion. Since slaves were not educated, society remained chained, without the possibility of freedom for any of the repressed people’s. “Much of the country, especially the South, had firm laws against education African Americans in order to protect the institution of slavery” (Doane). The ability of masters to withhold education from their slaves was within their rights as owners keeping slaves ignorant and submissive was their main goal. Without the ability to learn, society cannot claim to be free, because not everyone can be equal citizens within its boundaries leaving thousands chained and repressed because of a false racial claim to superiority. Language constructs what we do, how we think, and even how we interpret phenomenon. Language influences different cultures quite easily, by implanting prejudice and even ignorance or distrust. This allows a wall of ignorance among different cultures that would not be applicable without the possible bias that is created through language. For example, “In this context, we document that, given identical service scenarios, Indian accent leads to less favorable service outcomes compared to American and British accents” (Ze, Arndt, Singh, and Bierndt). Because of cultural differences many people don’t prefer to hear the rushed Indian dialect compared to that of an American or British citizen. The different dialects caused by the culture mixing with the distinct language can cause mixed reactions based on people’s personal bias and opinions. However, language does not only affect culture, it also affects society, especially how people perceive situations. One single slip of a syllable can completely change what someone says, which indirectly leads to what someone thinks. For example, “people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world” (Boroclitsky). Although language is intrinsically important to society, it does not stop society from affecting how it sounds or why you think a certain thing. Language can completely change your perception of multiple situations, including the ins and outs of societal encounters, and the prejudice that is accompanied with the mixture of society and language. In conclusion, language can radically influence society and culture, however it is extremely important that it do so, because if not we would not act of do things the way we have always done them. "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!" (Douglass 38). "The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon" (Douglass 19). "The focus is predominantly on Douglass' radical individuality and the process by which he became the man who could no longer be enslaved. The key, therefore, to Douglass' protest against slavery in the Narrative is the manner in which the author portrays himself as an exemplary black individual, the antithesis of everything considered slavish" (Andrews). "Douglass’s ideas were new and radical but tempered with humility and always communicated with respect. Unlike many other thinkers of his time, Frederick Douglass saw freedom as a universal right to all people. While other advocates often isolated their philosophies to one group—abolitionists with no interest in extending women the vote, for example, or suffragettes content for immigrants to maintain their status as second-class citizens, Douglass’s view of equality reached out to all people, regardless of gender, race or age" (Fleming). Works Cited

Andrews, William. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." American History

Through Literature. Ed. Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. Vol. 2. Gale

Cengage, 2006. eNotes.com. 11 Dec, 2012http://www.enotes.com/narrative-life frederick-

douglass-reference/

Boroditsky, Lera “How does our language shape the way we think.” www.edge.org.

N.p., 6 Dec 2009. Web. 11 Dec 2012.

Doane, Misty. “African American Education in the 19th century.”

www.naacpeducation.org. N.p., 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. New York: Dover

\Publications, 1995. Print.

Fleming, Lauren. "Frederick Douglass." Emerson Consulting Group, Inc. Emerson

Consulting Group, Inc., Jan. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.U.S.history.org. "27f. The Southern

Argument for Slavery." The Southern Argument for Slavery. UShistory.org, 2008-2012.

Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

Wang Ze, Aaron Arndt, Surendra Sigh, and Monica Bierndt. “The Impact of Accent

Stereotypes on Service Outcomes and It’s Boundary Conditions.” www.acrewebsite.org.

N.p., 2009. Web. 11 Dec 2012.
At the time that Frederick published his narrative, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass", many people believed his ideas to be extremely radical. Many of the southern, and even some northern, slaveholders thought that his ideas of free slaves and equality were complete gibberish. With their religious and social justifications, they thought of African Americans to be manual laborers and assistants to the success of their plantations. In his quote, "The focus is predominantly on Douglass' radical individuality...The key, therefore, to Douglass' protest against slavery in the Narrative is the manner in which the author portrays himself as an exemplary black individual, the antithesis of everything considered slavish" (Andrews), Andrews explains one of the reasons why Douglass' ideas were considered radical at the time. Since Douglass referred to himself as an exemplary black individual, many of the slaveholders thought this idea to be false because there was no such thing. At the time, there was no such thing as an exemplary black individual and there would not be until the abolition of slavery many years later. In a different quote by Fleming, "Douglass’s ideas were new and radical...Unlike many other thinkers of his time, Frederick Douglass saw freedom as a universal right to all people...Douglass’s view of equality reached out to all people, regardless of gender, race or age" (Fleming), she points out one other reason for the radicalistic view toward Douglass and his ideas. Many people at the time did not see slavery the way that he did because he was a slave, while they were not. In modern society, we view his ideas as reasonable and not idealistic because slavery was eventually abolished. Since Douglass' views of equality reached many people, a revolution began to end the cruel institution and today we view his ideas as heroic and proper for the civilized treatment of African Americans. Throughout his narrative, Frederick Douglass uses many examples of rhetoric to illustrate the evils of slavery. He accomplishes this through his various uses of figurative language. In his first quote, "Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness" (Douglass 22), Douglass uses a metaphor to compare Mrs. Auld's wonderful qualities to a harsh object and quality. Slavery began to dehumanize her into beast thriving with power. Mrs. Auld was rapidly changing from a sweet young lady to a heartless individual which is an effect of the evils of slavery. In an earlier quote about Mrs. Auld, "The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon" (Douglass 19), Douglass' use of imagery reveals the effect that slavery had on her, and ultimately everyone who supported the institution of slavery. Her eyes became full of rage and her voice turned to discord shows that slavery has given her a power that she had never held before, and was not able to sufficiently control it. In Douglass' eyes, Mrs. Auld was an angel that had become a demon that had been fatally tainted by the institution of slavery. Lastly, in Douglass' quote, "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!" (Douglass 38), his use of diction draws clear attention to effect that slavery directly had on himself. Mr. Covey, a symbol of slavery, had ruined Douglass, thus showing another effect of the evils of slavery. His punishment had made Douglass give up all hope of a future, and Douglass now saw himself as less than a human being. The one thing that Douglass made clear throughout his narrative and use of rhetoric, was the dehumanizing effect that slavery had on slaves, as well as slaveholders. Not only did slaves feel defeated, slaveholders felt powerful which led to them abusing themselves thus proving Douglass point. He strongly believed that their were no positve effects to slavery and that it was nothing but an institution for cruelty.
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