Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Rebellion

854 words - 4 pages

Throughout life, one’s ability to decide his or her own course determines future success. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave exposes the harsh suppression of African-American slaves in the South that confined their daily routines. Their inability to define their own lives highlights the direct connection between African-American illiteracy and their enslavement. Douglass reveals literacy’s power to transform his own identity, and his physical and psychological rebellion bolsters the confidence that drives his success.
Douglass’ introduction to reading and writing motivates his ambition to reshape his character, which inspires his escape to freedom. Discouraged by his slavery, Douglass suddenly experiences an epiphanic moment realizing that “to wit [is] the white man’s power to enslave the black man... From that moment [Douglass] understood the pathway from slavery to freedom” (78). He comes to perceive the connection between slavery and literacy skills. This crucial realization allows him to plan his way to freedom. He comprehends that literacy will serve as the vital bridge between oppression and liberty. Following his revelation, Douglass trades his physical bread with boys “who, in return, would give [him] that more valuable bread of knowledge” (83). Douglass sacrifices his health to receive the more important skills associated with literacy. His realizes that literacy will help guide his path to freedom and that transformation takes priority. He prizes the ability to read and write as a more precious commodity and his strategic trading helps converge his life of misery with his future life of liberty.
Douglass’ passion for literacy enables him to decode his master’s true intentions, inspiring him to convert his knowledge into psychological rebellion. Despite being criticized for learning to read, Douglass sees his situation clearly and writes that “what he most dreaded, that I most desired... The argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn” (79). Douglass’ ability to escape his master’s false advice equips him with his foundation for psychological rebellion. Rather than succumbing to depression or surrender, he views his circumstance accurately and realizes that resisting suppression will empower his psychological rebellion, ultimately bringing his freedom. Douglas further continues his process and acknowledges that “Mistress... had given [Douglass] the inch, and no precaution could prevent [him] from taking the ell” (82). Learning the alphabet serves as his foundation for freedom and inspires him to demand liberty. Although Mr. Auld predicted this behavior, Douglass realizes the benefits of resisting his master....

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