Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 18

Book:  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Author: Frederick Douglass

Info: No publisher or copyright information provided for the Kindle edition.  Originally published in 1845.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 

Where Acquired:  Free Kindle download.

What it's about:  Born around 1818, Douglass chronicles his early life from slavery to eventual escape and freedom.

Favorite Quotes: 

"My long crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in face. - p. 71

On teaching at the Sabbath schools: "I taught them, because it was the delight of my soul to be doing something that looked like bettering the condition of my race." - p. 77

"I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.  It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.  He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man." - p. 89

What I liked:

Frederick Douglass
The thing that stands out the most to me is that as a child, Douglass never attended school and had only a few lessons in letter recognition before one of his slave masters put an end to it.  Despite that, he found ways to glean learning experiences from anything and taught himself to read and write.  Despite no formal education, this former slave writes with better sentence structure and a more advanced vocabulary than many who have modern advantages, no government mandated restrictions on learning, and an abundance of available reading materials and teaching.  No joke, some of the complaints in reviews of the book were about the language.  No, not THAT kind of language; the reader felt that Douglass used words that were too hard to understand. 

Bless their hearts.

What I didn’t like: 

The chronology of events seemed to jump around and important details are left out.  For example, the mention of his wife and marriage seem to come out of nowhere.  I know that there are two other volumes in Douglass' autobiography that I've not read yet.  Quite possibly, they will fill in the gaps and put the events in better order.

I didn't quite understand Douglass' disdain for the Underground Railroad. 


Last year, I had the privilege of reading Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery. Though their experiences varied, both of their lives proved that the answer to slavery--both inward and outward-- was education.  Whether formal or self taught, education is key not only to changing the attitude of the mind, but building usable skills.  When I read stories like these, it irks the stew out of me that in modern society, individuals refuse to learn.  As I spoke about in my rant about critics of the Little Free Libraries, there are those who, once they are out of an academic environment, refuse to read or educate themselves any further.  That's unfortunate.  Yes, I graduated from high school and have two college degrees.  However, I've gained an even better education since leaving Jacksonville State University 17 years ago.  I've built skills and knowledge through reading, studying, taking free online seminars, plus experience from various jobs and volunteer positions.  There is learning to be had; one must simply want it.

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