Mr. R Lambert
26 April 2013
Learning To Read And Write
Enslavement is a word that carries many meanings. Man can be enslaved by force, behind prison walls, by chains, or by one’s very own mind. Liberation is yet another word that brings to mind many meanings. Liberating one’s self can be the act of relieving that force, climbing the prison wall, breaking the chain, or freeing your mind from the very oppressions that hold it down. Fredrick Douglass and Malcolm X both shared the unfortunate common bond of oppression and enslavement and both found salvation and liberation through reading. Though the commonality of liberation was shared, the stories by which their ...view middle of the document...
Unlike Douglass, Malcolm X was born a free man but imprisoned in his twenties. It was at this time when he retaught himself to read and write by his own hand, mind and hard work. Many would see X’s situation (Being imprisoned for years) as a curse and as a bondage by which he would be held down and oppressed with. Malcolm’s opinion however differed from those; he explained his situation as being nothing but a freedom. “Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.” A hopeful, mind freeing and optimistic tone was conveyed by X throughout the story, which set a positive mood as a whole for this excerpt.
In other instances we can see how Douglass’s tone continues to drag on when he tells of how he learned the alphabet. He tells how he learned what letters meant by observing ship carpenters writing on timber pieces that were intended for parts of the ship. “When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side, it would be marked thus – “L.” When a piece was for the starboard side, it would be marked thus – “S.” A piece for the larboard side forward would be marked thus – “L. F.” Douglass tells. Although he was learning to recognize letters, and would soon be able to distinguish one from another, the tone in which Douglass shared his story was nothing short of dry, bland, monotone and boring. Rather than pull us in and have us understanding exactly what it was like to be there with him, we are told rather a boring narrative of the way in which he learned.
Malcolm learned the alphabet as well, but the way in which he tells of it seems to pull us in and let us know exactly how badly he wanted to taste the fruitfulness of knowledge. Malcolm tells that he spent two days riffling through the dictionary and that he never realized how many words actually existed. Upon this thought he began copying words from a dictionary into a tablet of his own. “I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I’d written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting.” Said X. He did this until he copied every word in the English dictionary into his own tablet by his own work. Malcolm told, “Between what I wrote in my tablet, and...