In Response To Frederick Douglass

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Essay for an English class responding to the syntax used by this great orator

Submitted: July 20, 2015

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Submitted: July 20, 2015



Words can cause actions, however Douglass wants more than merely an understanding of slavery, but rather to evoke such strong emotions that its stirred a realization of the immorality of slavery but also the sophistication of any African American, that Frederick Douglass had to represent for as a whole. Douglass being best known for his ability to use his eloquence to sway crowds into the opinion of his own, is also successful in devising his words to create a sequence of words with syntax that adds a huge impact to his audience as he adds the pathos through his use of grammatical exceptions. Not only does he offer his meaningful pauses through dashes but also balanced and imbalanced sentences to comfort and stress out readers simultaneously, through these ways Douglass is able to convince his audience of his claim that even though he ran he still was in danger, and to provide readers the same experience he went through but provided through a vicarious experience by his skilled use at syntax.

Douglass went through a huge dramatic experience in which Douglass ran from everything he knew in order to achieve his freedom. The separation from his life must have been very traumatic, because when he writes of it the pace of the text coincides with how a stranded man would speak of a painful memory.  Just as he states “...but the loneliness overcame” him, readers feel the same hesitance as their narrator, the fear of being left behind and of separation by society as a whole. However these punctuation marks go beyond simple ends of sentences and becomes pauses in a story that is being spun, where Douglass describes it all so readers can understand the deep feeling of loss, further to accentuate his point by pausing to think of his words and giving the impression of speaking to a victim trying to recount their experiences in the form of a confession. “--I say, let him place himself in my situation--without home or friends--without money of credit” showed even more so Douglass’s lack of security, because Maslow’s requirements were not met even though he was already higher up on the hierarchy already. These few examples were meant to make the audience just as uncomfortable as Douglass must have felt when he was a stranger to this land.

More than simply having his words come alive and feel like a true narration, Douglas plays with the balance of his sentences to uplay his narration but also entice readers to feel the same as he did, and experience this institution side by side with him. An example of this balance of sentence is “I saw in every white man an enemy, and in almost every colored man cause for distrust” by this construction it allows for a sense of sensation, whereas white men are easily defined as the enemy in the South because of intentions of slavery, and it being that because African Americans can either have some obscene loyalty to the masters they swear by or some loyal to themselves. Either way this game of roulette is not one that an escape slave ought to be playing when their life depends on staying hidden among the huge crowds. Further the sentence construct adds a certain level of balance however plays on that it is not completely even, therefore showing the uncertainty of the narrator himself and how he is not even sure in his own assertions. Moreover, the rapidity of Douglass showing trust at the end of the section shows a drastic attachment to some chance of an escape from his own cruel mind. This is an overall arching theme throughout Douglass’s novel and is only achieved by his use of balance among his set of nouns and verbs.

In conclusion, Douglass does indeed use other techniques to bring life to his words however his most useful device is the one that is most discreet in that it shows up merely in grammar and punctuation in order to allow a readers pacing to truly determine the feelings of Douglass and his own expression of fear and isolation during this time.

© Copyright 2018 Nayako Kuramoto. All rights reserved.

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