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The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, American Slave

1. How does Douglass understand the dynamics of oppression? In what ways is his analysis of the kinds of oppression practiced in slave times still relevant to understanding slavery's continuing legacy of racism? Use specific examples and apply his insights to current issues.

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It seems your question is a pretty straightforward essay-response; the questions at the beginning are there to get you thinking, and the last statement tells you what the teacher expects as far as content and structure. I'll be including a structure to go with this toward the end. But for now, here are some ideas to get started:

Douglass is somewhat unique in that, like Equiano of a century before, he mostly reveals the truth about slavery and servitude by recounting his own experience. This is important, because that means we're not dealing with "overall/general" truths about the evils of slavery, we're dealing with specific experiences that form the basis for his rationale. One wonders what kind of argument he would have made with different experiences, or if he would have made an argument at all - and that's a frightening prospect, but one that reveals that slavery was complex and threatened identity on the basis of silence, whether the silence was bought with "special treatment" or beaten out by hard rules and work.

Ironically, the first examples that come to mind for me are related to those two issues. Douglass is educated by Mrs. Auld, or at least she attempts to; she's stopped by her husband because that would be, well, empowering the slave instead of keeping them in lower mental state and therefore less able to escape and less willing to change. This reveals that slaves' minds are silenced. The next example I can think of is Covey's merciless beating of Douglass. The physical punishment, hard labor and ...

Solution Summary

The Narrative of Frederick Douglass is examined for the American Slave.