How I Learned To Read And Write

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How I learned to read and write by Fredrick Douglas In Fredrick Douglas’s “How I learned to read and write,” Douglas explains first-hand the trials and tribulations he faced while teaching himself how to read and write, ultimately releasing his ability to understand how dire his situation as a slave was and gave him the courage to be free. In the beginning of the writing Douglas explains how he started on the journey of self-realization and education by his mistress Mrs. Auld teaching him the letters A, B and C and how to spell words of three to four letters. Douglas explains the reaction his master Mr. Auld had when he found out about the teachings and forbade his wife from teaching him anymore. Douglas explains what Mr. Auld said about teaching a slave to read opening up the reader to the prejudice of slaves. Douglas said, “Mr. Auld stated, ‘If you give a nigger and inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master- to do as he is told. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. ‘Now,’ said he, if you teach that nigger (speaking of Douglas) how to read there will 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. As to himself it could do him no good but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontent and unhappy.” This quote shows history at how slaves were thought of and treated. This was written from a slave’s point of view on what he heard and saw. Unfortunately most slaves did not teach themselves nor were taught how to read and write so their voices and opinions were never heard. Without this the reader would not fully understand the prejudice and close mindedness people of that time period had about slaves. Douglas also understood at that time the pathway from slavery to freedom was education. In the writings Douglas also
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