Dreams in Song of Solomon, Narrative of Frederick Douglass, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Push
In 1776 it was stated that our country was based upon one simple truth, "That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Though stated with a poetic justice, this statement did not hold true for all U.S. citizens. Many citizens were held in captivity, versus freedom, unable to pursue those "inalienable rights." After two hundred years of inequality, Martin Luther King, Jr., would provide one of the most vocal positions regarding the lack of equal rights ...view middle of the document...
Ultimately, his master discovered his wife's acts and immediately ended the teaching. Even though his instruction was cut early, Douglass soon realized that in being able to read and write, not only could his mind be free of captivity, but he may find physical freedom. It took Douglass seven years to learn to read and write. Though this power allowed Douglass to free his mind, he once stated, "I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without a remedy [...] I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free" (279). Even in achieving his dream of literacy, it led to a greater dream, freedom.
Douglass' achievements were not without setbacks and/or difficulties. In working towards literacy, his master withheld knowledge of reading and writing forcing him to learn these in unconventional ways. He tricked the neighborhood boys into showing him how to write and spell words in the dirt. He also secretly read newspapers and other texts. These setbacks only impressed upon him his necessity to become literate. If his master worked so hard to keep him from learning, then there must have been a great benefit for Douglass that his master was not vocalizing. He felt an absolute need to acquire what was denied him.
In his achievement of physical freedom, Douglass faced other setbacks. After seven years in Baltimore, Douglass was sent back to the South. Here he discovered hunger and cruel treatment. As an African American requiring "redirection," Douglass was sent to Mr. Covey for one year. During this year Mr. Covey was tasked with "breaking" Douglass, a task necessary to reintroduce Douglass to a life of physical labor. As one of his most trying years, Douglass explains, "Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit[...]my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me" (293). Douglass would not forget his dream. In an effort to survive via freedom, he stood up to Mr. Covey. Mr. Covey tried to beat him, and Douglass beat Covey down physically instead. Douglass would win this battle - a battle that would be a turning point in Douglass' life and rekindled a deeper desire to obtain freedom.
In rising above his difficulties, Douglass achieved literacy and freedom. These goals turned achievements led to an effort to teach fellow slaves, an effort aimed at achieving freedom for his fellow slaves. As an individual with a dream, Douglass worked to end slavery and bring dignity to his brethren.
Douglass' story is echoed in Sapphire's story, Push. Sapphire's Precious seeks literacy and parental independence. Precious' story does not occur in the 1800's or the early 1900's, but from 1987 to 1989. Twenty years after King's speech in Washington,...