Douglass and Jacobs-Pathos

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Just the Right Amount of Pathos Although slave narratives have lost their impact, they are still widely read and appreciated. Two narratives in particular, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs are very popular. Douglass’ story takes the readers through the life he knows in Baltimore from age seven until he is free in 1846, describing the rare ups and the lowest lows. Jacobs’ is similar in that it is also a full life tale, though the challenges she faces are completely different from that of Douglass. While they are both slave narratives, they are written from the perspectives of different genders, bringing two very different experiences. Both narratives appeal to pathos, but Douglass’ is more realistic and appealing, whereas Jacobs’ is overdone and almost petty. Both of these narratives have a strong appeal to pathos. This is very common throughout slave narratives because the purpose of them is to make the reader feel what they felt and sympathize with them. The audiences for these narratives at the time were abolitionists, with the purpose of calling them to action to abolish slavery. Even now, with slavery abolished, a slave narrative still brings with it intense emotion and heartache that transcends time. For example, Douglass establishes pathos on the first few pages when describing how he only saw his own mother "four or five times in my life" (Douglass 2). This appeals to everyone who ever had a mother. This also makes the reader ache for happiness of this poor boy almost immediately. The same goes for Jacobs, who applies the same pathos about her mother, “When I was six years old, my mother died; and then, for the first time, I learned, by the talk around me, that I was a slave,” (Jacobs 8). When Douglass describes the misconceptions of slaves, there is a way

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