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The (Mis)Education of Frederick Douglass Presentation

Questions answered from sheet.

Jake Bakewell

on 12 December 2012

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Transcript of The (Mis)Education of Frederick Douglass Presentation

Essential Questions Frederick Douglass Essential Question #1 How does Frederick Douglass use rhetoric throughout his narrative to illustrate the evils of slavery? Essential Question # 2 Why is universal education necessary for a free society? Essential Question #3 Why were Douglass' narratives considered "radical" when they were published? Are they still? How is our understanding of culture and society constructed through and by language? Essential Question #5 How did the South justify slavery? Essential Question #6 How does Frederick Douglass us rhetoric throughout his narrative to promote the ideals of freedom? Antithesis He promotes his ideals of freedom through his unique antithesis as in the quote, "You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip!" (Douglass 63) Rhetorical Question And by reflecting on his wretched condition through rhetorical questions he achieves in leveling himself with other humans, yet without his fundamental freedoms, "Is there any God? Why am I a slave?" (Douglass 64) Irony Through his recollection of the slaveholder's practice on special days like the sabbath or holidays like Christmas he demonstrates the irony as slaveholders seek to disgust slaves with freedom, even the mere idea of it. (Douglass 71 & 74) Douglass said, "Instead of spending the Sabbath in wrestling, boxing, and drinking whiskey, we were trying to learn how to read the will of God; for they had much rather see us enraged in those degrading sports, than to see us behaving like intellectual, moral, and accountable beings." (Douglass 74-75) Specific exmaples that evokes emotions "The mode here adopted to disgust the slave with freedom, by allowing him to see only the abuse of it, is carried out in other things. Such as with the instance of the slave with molasses as Douglass described. Through all these Douglass does not outright state the ideals of freedom, but leads the reader to infer them from his rhetoric. (Douglass 71) Essential Question #4 Title It can be seen in the very title of the book that in its time when slavery was such a influential force that it would be radical and probably dangerous for a slave to write a narrative of his life. http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&source=&sortBy=&displayGroups=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA80841917 Escape Douglass including details of former attempts to escape and his one successful one was even more radical and perilous, for at any time after he published his book a slave catcher could knock on his door ready to bring him back to that horrible institution. (Douglass 88) http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap3/douglass Specific names and locations As he moves along through his book he mentions most of the people that helped him achieve his glorious freedom by name such as Mrs. Auld teaching him the ABC's and Mr. Ruggles helping him as a fugitive once he was free. This would have been extremely dangerous at the time and probably considered the most radical aspect of his highly controversial book. (Douglass 94) Is it still considered radical today? Usually the book is examined and read in a historical context relating most of it contents back to the events and precedents of the time in which it was published so as a result it would in all rights still be considered a rather radical book today too. Culture As Douglass put it in the book, "It was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read" (Douglass 40). In that moment it is apparent that when language is withheld that a person is easily subjugated and manipulated by someone else who has a firmer grasp on it. Language in every way it is used affects culture; "even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world" (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/boroditsky09/boroditsky09_index.html). Fundamentally the way in which our languages developed also influenced how our culture developed such as formal language and behavior in a public area where it is appropriate and informal, more jovial behavior while in ones home, this is especially apparent in the cultural norms of China. Society In everyday societal interactions language's influence on us as a people is obvious. "Language incorporates social values. What is of value to society is incorporated into language to produce standards, ideals and goals. Social changes produce changes in language." (http://www.modern-thinker.co.uk/6%20-%20language%20and%20society.htm). As society changes ,such as the receding area which garments cover, so to does language, it matches the liberated attitude by making a more informal language more normal. It is a constant balancing act with the two, for as a change happens in one an aspect of the other is modified in some way to match that change and maintain the balance and uniformity between the two. So as each is modified by the other as we grow up and learn more about language we also in turn grow more as a part of the society. At Large As a whole culture and society are inseparably intertwined as each society is unique and each culture is unique to its society. We grow and learn more and more and as we learn more about language we subsequently become more involved with our society and more aware of our culture through it as connections are made as to why language is the way it is and how the two forces shape each other as the times change. Jake Bakewell & Andrew Cook Cruelty Harsh Conditions Dehumanizing Effects Douglass explains a few of the evils he encountered when he refers to the time where a slave mistakenly disapproves of the colonel’s treatment directly to the colonel, without knowing it was him. “He was immediately chained and handcuffed; and thus, without a moment’s warning, he was snatched away, and forever sundered, form his family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting than death (Douglass 30).” This demonstrates the heartless cruelty that went hand in hand with slavery. He uses vivid diction as he speaks of the harsh conditions of his bondage, "I suffered much from hunger, but much more from cold" (Douglass 36). And throughout the entire book Douglass uses a parallelism between the slaves and animals to illustrate how far the dehumanizing efforts were taken. "There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being, and were all subjected to the narrow examination" (Douglass 49). So as a whole Douglass makes us of frequent anecdotes, vivid diction, and some parallelism, and similar structure to depict the evils of slavery. Deprived and ignorant; or learned and open 2. Douglass portrayed the idea that if the slaves were educated it’d help them with the idea of a free society. “… Mr. Wilson, who proposed to keep a Sabbath school for the instruction of such slaves as might be disposed to learn and to read the New Testament (page 56).” Douglass goes on to say how they were only able to meet 3 times before the class-leaders drove them away from meeting again to end the idea of a Sabbath school for slaves. Openness once Enlightened Douglass goes on to say how when he was able to escape to the north how the life there was much unlike he would expect it to be. “The impression which I had received respecting the character and condition of the people of the north, I found to be singularly erroneous (page 96).” Douglass continues to explain this view with how he was poorly educated in the views and differences from the north to the south. Other Opinions and Contemporary views Another famous writer once said, “Philosophy was his belief that a democratic society of informed and engaged inquirers was the best means of promoting human interests (John Dewey).” Thus meaning that with society informed would mean to establish a free society which everyone is able to understand the underlining concepts. Inferior Douglass explains how the south justified slavery by explaining the treatment of the slaves compared to normal guests. “They used to take great pleasure in coming there to put up; for while he starved us, he stuffed them (Douglass 56).” He does this to show the treatment in comparison from slaves to guests. Religion He also relates how the fact of them being religious made them crueler by stating “I have said my master found religious sanction for his cruelty”. He goes on to say “… in justification of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of Scripture-“He that knoweth his master’s will and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes (Douglass 57).” First Hand Accounts Another view of how the south justified the idea of slavery is from Sojourner Truth, as she speaks to many people about the evils of slavery and its influence on her. “I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen 'em mos' all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a'n't I a woman?" Truth reflects on her having given birth to thirteen children and how they were all sold to slavery while none helped her. This explains how the south reflected on the ideas of slavery by this treatment of her emotionally and physically. So in conclusion it can be seen that through religion, inheritance, and a mistaken inferiority the south was able to justify their use of slavery, though not with very sound reasons. Works Cited 1.Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass; first published in 1845
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