Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
The tone established in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is unusual in that from the beginning to the end the focus has been shifted. In the beginning of the narrative Douglass seems to fulfill every stereotypical slavery theme. He is a young black slave who at first cannot read and is very naïve in understanding his situation. As a child put into slavery Douglass does not have the knowledge to know about his surroundings and the world outside of slavery. In Douglass’ narrative the tone is first set as that of an observer, however finishing with his own personal accounts.
When first introduced to Douglass and his story, we find him to be a young slave boy filled with information about those around him. Not only does he speak from the view point of an observer, but he speaks of many typical stereotypes in the slave life. At this point in his life, Frederick is inexperienced and knows nothing of the pleasures of things such as reading, writing, or even the rights everyone should be entitled to. Douglass knowing hardly anything of his family, their whereabouts, or his background, seems to be equivalent to the many other slaves at the time. As a child Frederick Douglass sees the injustices around him and observes them, yet as the story continues we begin to see a change.
With the progression of time we find Frederick Douglas begin to shift the tone to a focus within himself. The story begins to center around his slave life, his experiences, and less about those around him. It is finally in the second part of the narrative that we see a breakout of Douglass where he demonstrates his individualistic attitude, and his take charge qualities. Instead of creating a tone that centers on the lives of slaves around him, Douglass grabs the reader’s attention by shifting the tone to more personal accounts.
By centering on his own personal story, Douglass is able to capture the attention of his audience. With a more detailed description of events taking place, the reader is trapped into that time period, being able to live out the experience with Douglass. Frederick Douglass’ quest for freedom almost becomes a quest for the reader as well. The tone set during this section of the narrative shows Douglass to be much more in charge than he was as a child. A confident slave, Douglass anticipates his freedom, yet also creating a freedom for himself while still enslaved.
It is at this time that Frederick Douglass learns one of the greatest freedoms of all. He is set free, in an educational sense. Douglass has been taught a few reading...