Knowledge is power. Frederick Douglass through literacy constructs himself and his life story. He has the ability to stand outside of his experiences and is aware of his places and events in his life. Douglass is growing up and becoming a man physically and emotionally, innocence is being shed as he matures into manhood. In this essay I will prove that Douglass uses the acquisition of literacy to experience defining moments in his life.
Watershed marks are defining moments in Douglass’s life. He reconstructs the circumstances of his early life although he doesn’t seem to exist in one place. For example, Douglass in the beginning of the text has no accurate knowledge of his age. Also, the incidence of the flogging Aunt Hester experienced changed Douglass’s life and perception. Douglass states, “ I had therefore been, until now, out of the way of the bloody scenes that often occurred on the plantation.” ( Gates p. 398) Douglass realizes his reality is being defined by oppression. Slavery was to destroy the black sense of self. Douglass also witness Mr. Severe whip a woman while swearing and he realized the power behind his profane words. Douglass states, “ It was enough to chill the blood and stiffen the hair of an ordinary man to hear him talk”. ( Gates p. 400). Douglass realizes the power of language and words although this is a painful experience to witness. He realizes the acquisition of literacy in this event through profanity, which becomes a defining moment in his life.
One of the most important experiences Douglass had was the time spent at the Aulds home. Mr. Auld stated, “Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world”. It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” (Gates p. 409) Douglass realizes language and words are politically charged and whoever controls literacy has power. Silence equals oppression. If you want to enslave a person take away their voice and their freedom. The acquisition of literacy constitutes a defining...