Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass The tone established in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is unusual in that from the beginning to the end the focus has been shifted. In the beginning of the narrative Douglass seems to fulfill every stereotypical slavery theme. He is a young black slave who at first cannot read and is very na ” ive in understanding his situation. As a child put into slavery Douglass does not have the knowledge to know about his surroundings and the world outside of slavery.
In Douglass’ narrative the tone is first set as that of an observer, however finishing with his own personal accounts. When first introduced to Douglass and his story, we find him to be a young slave boy filled with information about those around him. Not only does he speak from the view point of an observer, but he speaks of many typical stereotypes in the slave life. At this point in his life, Frederick is inexperienced and knows nothing of the pleasures of things such as reading, writing, or even the rights everyone should be entitled to. Douglass knowing hardly anything of his family, their whereabouts, or his background, seems to be equivalent to the many other slaves at the time. As a child Frederick Douglass sees the injustices around him and observes them, yet as the story continues we begin to see a change.
The narrative of Frederick Douglass illustrates the life of a slave. He was not an ordinary slave. Indeed he dreamed of freedom, just as all slaves did, but ... very clear... slavery is evil. Bibliography Douglass, Frederick. (1962) Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. New York: Collier Books, 1 The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass: Early Years ...
With the progression of time we find Frederick Douglas begin to shift the tone to a focus within himself. The story begins to center around his slave life, his experiences, and less about those around him. It is finally in the second part of the narrative that we see a breakout of Douglass where he demonstrates his individualistic attitude, and his take charge qualities. Instead of creating a tone that centers on the lives of slaves around him, Douglass grabs the reader’s attention by shifting the tone to more personal accounts.
By centering on his own personal story, Douglass is able to capture the attention of his audience. With a more detailed description of events taking place, the reader is trapped into that time period, being able to live out the experience with Douglass. Frederick Douglass’ quest for freedom almost becomes a quest for the reader as well. The tone set during this section of the narrative shows Douglass to be much more in charge than he was as a child.
A confident slave, Douglass anticipates his freedom, yet also creating a freedom for himself while still enslaved. It is at this time that Frederick Douglass learns one of the greatest freedoms of all. He is set free, in an educational sense. Douglass has been taught a few reading lessons form his mistress. Soon after his master discovers this, and commences the teaching at once.
Soon thereafter, Frederick Douglass uses some smart tactics to resume his learning. He in a sense manipulates the children around him into teaching him how to read and write. This grand achievement taught Douglass something, as he says, “From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. It was just what I wanted, and I got it at a time when I least expected it.” Douglass has discovered a great new freedom and uses this new power to help plan an escape.
The tone set after this gained knowledge shows Douglass as a more confident and clever writer. As the narrative soon reaches the end the tone has almost completely turned to focus on Frederick Douglass and his plan for escape. What once had been a narrative showing Douglass to be much like everyone else, has now transcended to tell the gripping tale of an educated slave searching for his freedom. During the idea of escaping and the actual plan of going through with it, many details are left out. Douglass states “before narrating any of the peculiar circumstances, I deem it proper to make known my intention not to state all the facts connected with the transaction.” In doing so Douglass assumed the narrative would lose the interest of its readers, however the mere thought of a slave man risking his life for a chance to freedom is able to recapture the interest of any facts left out.
In the passage of the Narrative of Fredrick Douglass, the author masterfully conveys two complimentary tones of liberation and fear. The tones transition by the use of diction and detail. The passage is written entirely in first person, since we are witnessing the struggles of Fredrick Douglass through his eyes. Through his diction, we are able to feel the triumph that comes with freedom along ...
In the conclusion of the narrative Frederick Douglass contemplates escaping, weighing it against the idea of leaving all of his friends. Douglass says, “I had a good number of warm-hearted friends in Baltimore, -friends that I loved almost as I did my life, -and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression.” Such a personal tone and accounts make the reader truly see the change Douglass has gone through since the beginning of the narrative. The language difference from the beginning up until the conclusion can be based solely on spirit and education. From the start Douglass did not know much about anything and spoke like he should have, from a child’s view.
This includes a child’s inquisitiveness, demonstrated by his speaking of others more than himself. As he grows and matures, and is even given the gift of an education the language changes dramatically to that of an educated man. Speaking in an intellectual manner Douglass sees that his ability to read and write has truly set him free. From the tone of a young boy, to that of an achieved man, Douglass never gave up on one idea; that he believed his future was in his own hands.