Style Analysis - "The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass"

Essay by shedoesnotcheatHigh School, 11th gradeB+, February 2007

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In the excerpt from "The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass," (1-5) undiscerning and heart-rending tones reflect Douglass' lack of understanding and his fear of the terrible spectacles of slavery in general. Douglass often wishes to deem more understanding about his life and relationship with his parents, but meanwhile his first witnesses violent exhibitions of slavery make unable to acquire these intimations from his white masters.

Douglass' diction highlighted his experiences as a young child in the desire to know more information about his life and his witness to frightful scenes of slavery. Slaves like himself knew "little of their ages as horses [knew] of theirs" creating a "source of unhappiness" as a young child, but for any slave, deeming these inquiries was considered "improper and impertinent." Lacking knowledge, even as simple as one's age, exemplifies how dispirited the slaves felt. Without them knowing anything about themselves would make them question their purpose and overall outlook of their life full of hardships to withstand.

These first few calamities that Douglass experienced were the "blood stained-gate" and his "entrance to the hell of slavery" that "struck [him] with awful force." These terrifying events in his young years affected him so much he could remember everything with such extreme detail. Events like the ones he had witnessed are hard to forget especially since he was a first participant to witness the doom of slavery. When he first lived in the outskirts of the plantation he kept an innocent mind, but these new occurrences had him desiring for more understanding of the atmosphere around him.

The first-person point of view reinforces the hardships and fear in the passage. When he first witnesses his aunt's beating he said, "I was so terrified and horror-stricken at the sight" and he wished he could...