Book: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederic…

Book: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. 200 words and citing the text by page number like this: (43). In chapters VI-VII, how does learning to read lead Douglass to recognize the injustice of slavery? What would you identify as the major steps in this journey? Religious hypocrisy was a frequent target of Douglass’s writing. How does Captain Auld use his religion to justify slavery?

In chapters VI and VII of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author provides compelling insights into how learning to read leads him to recognize the injustice of slavery. Through his journey, several major steps can be identified that contribute to Douglass’s growing awareness of the wrongs perpetuated by slavery. Additionally, religious hypocrisy is indeed a frequent target in Douglass’s writing, and Captain Auld’s use of his religion to justify slavery serves as a prime example of this.

In chapter VI, Douglass describes how learning to read opened his eyes to the true nature of slavery. Initially, his thoughts on slavery were somewhat ambiguous, as he had been taught from a young age that it was a necessary evil. However, as he starts to acquire the ability to read, he encounters texts that challenge this assumption. For instance, while reading The Columbian Orator, he becomes acquainted with various speeches advocating for freedom and justice. These persuasive words deeply resonate with him, prompting him to question the morality of his own condition (Douglass 43).

The next significant step in Douglass’s journey comes in chapter VII when he observes the connection between literacy and freedom. He realizes that his ability to read empowers him with knowledge, which in turn fuels his desire for liberation. As he writes, “I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man” (Douglass 54). This newfound understanding reveals the inherent injustice of the slave system and puts Douglass on a transformative path.

Furthermore, Douglass recognizes that education can lead to resistance and rebellion. He sees that as slaves gain knowledge, they become increasingly aware of their own worth and the oppressive nature of slavery. Douglass personally witnesses the transformation in his fellow slaves named Sandy Jenkins and his wife. Their pursuit of knowledge sparks a fire within them, prompting them to yearn for freedom (Douglass 64). This realization contributes to Douglass’s own conviction that literacy grants slaves a powerful means to challenge their oppressors.

Religious hypocrisy is a significant theme in Douglass’s narrative, and Captain Auld’s use of religion to justify slavery exemplifies this phenomenon. In chapter VII, Douglass recounts how Captain Auld, his former master’s husband, initially considered it a sin to teach slaves to read. However, after witnessing his wife teaching Douglass, Captain Auld changes his perspective and argues that literacy would make slaves “unfit to be slaves” and lead to insubordination (Douglass 55).

Captain Auld justifies this shift by using religious teachings to support his position. He claims that it is against God’s will for slaves to acquire knowledge and thereby challenge their masters. Douglass astutely observes that Captain Auld’s religious views conveniently align with his own self-interest as a slave owner. By linking religion with the perpetuation of slavery, Captain Auld successfully convinces himself that his actions are morally justified (Douglass 56).

In conclusion, Douglass’s journey of learning to read plays a crucial role in his recognition of the injustice of slavery. Passing through various stages of intellectual and emotional growth, Douglass realizes that education brings awareness, empowerment, and a desire for liberation. Additionally, Captain Auld’s religious hypocrisy exemplifies the manipulation of religion to justify the institution of slavery. Through the lens of Douglass’s experiences, we gain profound insights into the transformative power of literacy and the inherent contradictions of religious hypocrisy.