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The Importance Of Being Literate Essay

848 words - 4 pages

The Importance of Being Literate

During the times of racial slavery in America, White society prevented African- American people from achieving their intellectual potential. The slaveholders were apprehensive that their slaves would become equivalent or superior to them, and therefore would be capable of outwitting them. Most slaves unhappily accepted the abuse. However, some audacious slaves risked their lives to resist these immoral inequalities of the 1800’s. One slave in particular, Fredrick Douglass, intentionally chose to disobey his masters by,” burying his nose in any piece of literature he could come across,” (pg. 267). Therefore, he struggled to educate himself and rise ...view middle of the document...

If a white man suspected him of “having a book,”(pg. 269) he would be severely beaten. Therefore, he had to learn how to read with caution and discretion. For example, “when [Fredrick Douglass] was sent to errands, [he] always took [his] book with [him] and by going one part of [his] errand quickly, [he] found time to get a lesson before [his] return”(pg. 269).
At times, “[Fredrick Douglass] felt that learning to read [had] been a curse rather than a blessing”. (pg. 270) This made him realize the depths of despair that slaves had to survived in. At times like these, he thought that it would be better to be ignorant than to comprehend the wonderful life that others lived in because they possessed freedom. Through his experience and insight came the realization that put life in a new perspective. This is when he realized that it was “a pity so fine a fellow as myself should be a slave for life” (pg. 271).
In his narrative, Douglass told real-life stories about the lives of slaves including that of Mrs. Lucretia. Her story illustrated how a strong and loyal woman becomes a broken, lost soul because she was “a slave for life.” (pg. 274) Even though she spent her life as a loyal servant of her master, she became old and useless, and was therefore sent away to live in a little hut where she “suffers in utter loneliness”(pg. 275). Stories like this fuelled Douglass’ desire to overcome slavery. Only an educated person was able to fight the laws of a country that...

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