Ignorance as a Tool of Slavery with Frederick Douglass Essay

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Ignorance as a tool of Slavery

To have an idea of what is going on in society and the world around us, one has to have knowledge to comprehend certain thought processes.   If we are illiterate or do not even know simple things like our birthdate or paternity for example, that would make it very difficult to believe anyone or grasp general ideas.   This is the strategy that slaveholders used, and the enforced ignorance steals children of their natural sense of individual identity.   Using ignorance as a tool of slavery is a key theme in The Narrative of Frederick Douglas.   Throughout the Narrative, Douglass shows how the use of ignorance was employed against the slaves.   Using this theme, we will focus on how they kept the slaves from learning, and how Douglass felt after trying to learn.
To start, at the time Douglass was writing, many people believed that slavery was a natural state of being.   They believed that blacks were inferior to whites and they should be kept as workers.   From birth, slave owners started the tactic of keeping slaves oblivious to the world around them by keeping basic facts like their birth date or paternity away from them.   “By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant” (Douglass 21).   In this quote Douglass is reiterating the fact that by keeping the age from the slaves, they lose a sense of personal identity causing them to feel less important.   As the slaves grew older, the masters would keep them from learning other things like how to read or write.   If the slaves were literate, they would begin to learn things.   Literacy brought out with it an understanding of the larger world.   It opened up before a slave the idea of justice and understanding history.   They might also read the bible, and reading the Bible led to a truer comprehension of how the masters were mistreating the slaves.   Once they would...

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