Essay On Literacy In African American Literature

2320 words - 9 pages

Levels of Literacy in African-American Literature - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Song of Solomon, and Push

 
    Through literacy will come emancipation. So runs a theme throughout the various selections we have read thus far. But emancipation comes in many forms, as does literacy. The various aspects of academic literacy are rather obvious in relation to emancipation, especially when one is confronted with exclusion from membership in the dominant culture. In the various slave narratives we have examined, all but one writer, Mary Prince, managed to achieve academic literacy to varying degrees (although, Mary Prince was in the process of learning to read and write). And even though she was not literate, Mary was still able to have her story told. Frederick Douglass, made it a point to attain literacy at any cost. Most, but not all, of Toni Morrison's characters in Song of Solomon appear to have attained at least a modicum of literacy. In Push, Sapphire has her protagonist, Precious, pointed down a long road toward at least a minimal form of academic literacy that will allow her to become a more functional human being and a much more productive member of society. What part does literacy play in the advancement of the individual, and to what lengths will one go to achieve it? What part must the individual play to make certain that literacy leads to the desired or implied advancement? And, finally, is there a cost for literacy, or is it always something gained?

 

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

 

As a relatively young man, Frederick Douglass discovers, in his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, that learning to read and write can be his path to freedom. Upon discovering that his wife has been teaching Douglass to read, his master, Mr. Auld, states that "[...] it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read" (274). Auld's reasoning is that being able to read would "[...] forever unfit him [Douglass] to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master" (274). From Auld's admonitions, Douglass determines that his road to freedom is paved with words: "From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. [...] The very decided manner with which he spoke [...] served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering" (275). Douglass understands that he has everything to gain from literacy, especially the freedom that he desires above all else. His path will be difficult, though, since he will have to find ways to teach himself to read, but it becomes a quest for him.

 

Does Frederick Douglass have to pay a price to become literate? He states that he "[...] was compelled to resort to various stratagems [...]" to become literate and would "[...] [make] friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street" (276). He would ply them with scraps of bread in his efforts to gain knowledge and would read...

Find Another Essay On Essay on Literacy in African-American Literature

African American Lit Essay

1588 words - 6 pages . She took this case to court to give her son his freedom he deserved. She won the case, and was known as the very first African American to win a case challenging a white man in the United States court of law. She and her son parted ways when he accepted a job working on ships. So many different issues and problems were thrown at Sojourner, but she seemed to get through them all. She converted her religious faith to Christianity after so many

Report on American Literature in general

2068 words - 8 pages outstanding political writing, few works of note appeared during or soon after the Revolution.American books were harshly reviewed in England. Americans were painfully aware of their excessive dependence on English literary models. The search for a native literature became a national obsession. As one American magazine editor wrote, around 1816, "Dependence is a state of degradation fraught with disgrace, and to be dependent on a foreign mind for

The Importance of African American Life and Literature in the 20th Century

1637 words - 7 pages 1McNultyLauren McNultyProfessor Amritjit SinghEnglish 33903 February 2014The Importance of African American Life and Literature in the 20th CenturyRacism and segregation were a huge part of American history. African American authors and poets became famous after writing about their experiences, their friends experiences, and their families experiences during the 20th century. Authors such as Langston Hughes and Richard Wright became extremely

Identity and Self-Esteem: A Look at Self-Verification in African American Literature

3392 words - 14 pages and gaining self-esteem appear to play an even more important role. This essay will look at African American literature from a psychological perspective. From Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs to Zora Neale Hurston's Delia in "Sweat" to James Baldwin's John in Go Tell It On the Mountain, group and individual identity, in conjunction with a high level of self-esteem, are critical factors in determining the successes achieved by individuals

Nature in American Literature

1348 words - 5 pages historical movement. A further examination of this movement, reveals prevalence of nature's influence on man and how it affects their lives. An early work in American Literature, Thanatopsis, is also one of the most influential works of nature and how it affects man. This work portrays nature as being a part of man's life. In this work nature is rendered all around man and acknowledges the support that nature offers for many of our needs. Nature

American Sprirt In Literature

520 words - 2 pages American Spirit America was fertile soil for early writers. Among these were Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, Edward Taylor, and Benjamin Franklin. Their writings show the spirit of yesterday's America.Bradstreet showed America's inner strength in her writing about the burning of her house. Her passage, ''Then, coming out, beheld a space the flame consumed my dwelling place and when I could no longer look, I blest His name that gave and took

Communication in American Literature

2950 words - 12 pages American literature has changed since the industrial revolution. As a child matures into an adult, so has American literature grown to include the problems faced in reality. The word “fiction” transformed from the fairy tales of romanticism to the reality of realism in America. Authors such as: Clemens, Howells, Chopin, Eliot, Faulkner, and Anderson have all assisted the move from dreams to reality. Dramatists O’neill and Miller

Obesity in African American Women

5703 words - 23 pages who suffer from eating disorders, particularly bulimia, may be increasing. Regardless of this increase in restrictive eating disorders, significant concerns related to obesity and overweight in African American women have repeatedly emerged in the literature. For example, epidemiological studies of eating behaviors and weight concerns (e.g., obesity, binge eating) reveal that females, African Americans, and individuals in the middle and lower

AIDS in African American Community

1683 words - 7 pages that determines whether you can become infected with HIV (Goosby78). Many Americans uses excuses on why they choose not to go and get tested they say “it can’t happen to me” (Gallant1). This vastly happens in our African American because we are usually the last people to be aware of our sexual status. African Americans need to be more concerned about their sexual status because by not knowing their status “they are killing themselves slowly

"An Age of Melancholy Musings" A Comprative/Contrast essay focusing on the American writers of the Neo-Classic period and the Romantic period in literature.

608 words - 2 pages Modern Romanticism is a literary and artistic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that placed value on emotion over reason, on the imagination over society. Some sources say Romanticism started in reaction to neo-classicism (or the Enlightenment). Neo-Classicism's duration was until around 1800, which directly precedes the popularization of Romanticism. The focus of Neo-Classicism is essentially reason, balance, clarity, and

Africans in America: The effects of African-American on 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s culture

2244 words - 9 pages Major League sports. A black man by the name of Jackie Robinson was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers major league baseball team in 1946. He was the first African-American to play major league baseball. He revolutionized professional American sports.Jackie (Jack Roosevelt) Robinson was born in Georgia in 1919, but grew up in Pasadena, California. He attended UCLA on athletic scholarships, which was something that few black men were able to do. After

Similar Essays

Essay On African American Culture

2089 words - 8 pages Essay on African American Culture Works Cited Missing African American culture is defined as the learned, shared and transmitted values, beliefs, norms, and life ways carried by this group of people, which guides their decisions, thinking, and actions in patterned ways. The individual in society is bound by rules of their culture. Culture of people are different in that the same events that maybe fear- inducing in one culture, maybe anger

African American Literature, M Essay

1469 words - 6 pages Many comparisons can be drawn between the novels Meridian, by Alice Walker, and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. The protagonists of both books are African-American females searching in a confused, bewildered world. Meridian is the story of the title character?s life from childhood to the Civil Rights Movement while Eyes chronicle Janie?s ever-evolving character from life with a white family in the Deep South to her return

African American Literature Toni Morrisons Essay Black Matters

772 words - 3 pages African American Literature Toni Morrisons Essay Black Matters In Black Matters, Toni Morrison discusses "knowledge" and how it seems to take on a Eurocentric standpoint. The "knowledge" she discusses is the traditional literature that is "unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of the first Africans and then African-Americans in the United States" (Morrison 310). Morrison also addresses the treatment of African Americans in current

The Influence Of African American Oratory On Later Literature

687 words - 3 pages African American writers and speakers had more education, traces of the style of the earlier oratory can still be found. The rhythmic singing of the songs of the fields have been carried on to many modern black speakers. Jesse Jackson, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all have distinctive speech patterns, clearly derived from the oratory tradition of their enslaved ancestors.Many aspects of modern African American culture, including literature