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Literacy is an important skill in every society because it affects theability to communicate and reason The misfortune of being illiterateensures a spot in the lowest social class without the possibility ofimproving ones circumstances In the 19th century it was illegal toeducate slaves because it kept them ignorant to their rights andinjustices Frederick Douglass wrote a non-fiction autobiography todocument his unique experience as an American slave In Narrative of theLife of Frederick Douglass an American slave Douglass attains literacyby bribing neighboring children to teach him what they are learning atschool The education he receives opens his eyes to the cruelty of hismasters and begins his life as an abolitionist Douglass utilizes anappeal to ethos through his discussion of slaves illiteracy andsimplistic diction because of his informal education to add credibilityto his accountSlavery had many methods of punishment and some of the psychologicaltactics were more horrific than the physical A common form ofpsychological abuse was denying slaves an education and reducingthem to slavery Douglass 45 Without literacy Douglass felt as ifhe was not human but a Brute Slaveholders understood the importanceof keeping them in ignorance Kohn 2 One of Douglasss masters oncesaid that if blacks are taught to read it would forever unfit him tobe a slave Douglass 41 Many masters believed that educating theirslaves would be a threat to the system and feared a large-scale slaverebellion On large plantations in the deep south the slaves faroutnumbered the masters and a rebellion could be detrimental Theslaveholders excuse for denying this God given right was becausehumanism would undermine the system by strengthening slavesrecognition of their own humanity and desire to be free Kohn 3After this confrontation with his master Douglass begins to understandthat literacy education and reason are figured as crucial tools inthe struggle for emancipation Kohn 3 When Douglass attains hisliteracy his masters prediction becomes a reality The more helearned the more he was led to abhor and detest his enslaversDouglass 45 He couldnt understand how
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