Book Review: Frederick Douglass the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
Born a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore in 1818, Douglass was an implacable enemy of oppression throughout his life, fighting against slavery until Emancipation and in favor of women's rights and black suffrage in the decades that followed.
The slave is the primitive other whose silence allows white sponsors to describe the grace, the beauty of their own civilized voices” (Sekora 510). On the other hand, though, we might argue that these are just some of the earliest examples of the African American voice. In Douglass’s Narrative, the struggle to attain literacy is an issue represented that is unique to African Americans. His desire to learn is matched by his master, Master Hugh’s refusal to let him learn. Douglass eventually learns how to write through Hugh’s son’s old copybooks and through the poor white children that lived in the same neighborhood—essentially appropriating the white voice and language, making it his own. These types of stories regarding the attainment of literacy show up in multiple other narratives, with over thirty listed on the website published by Documenting the American South (“Guide”).
The works document the rise of a slave to a free man, to a respected speaker, to a famous writer and politician.
Douglass, Fredrick. Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2012. Kindle AZW file.
“Guide to Religious Content in Slave Narratives.” North American Slave Narratives. Ed. Grendler Marcella, Leiter Andrew, and Sexton Jill. Documenting the American South, 2004. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
Levine, Robert S. “The Slave Narrative and the Revolutionary Tradition of American Autobiography.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. PDF.
Sekora, John. “Black Message/White Envelope: Genre, Authenticity, and Authority in the Antebellum Slave Narrative.” Callaloo 32 (1987): 482-515. JSTOR. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.
Wilson, Harriet E. Our Nig, Or; Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a Two-Story White House, North Showing that slavery’s shadows fall even there. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2011. Kindle AZW file.