This essay presents Learning to Read and Write” which is an extract from Frederick Douglass’ autobiography entitled Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass published in 1845 whereas “Learning to Read” is excerpted from Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X published in 1965. …
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As the discussion stresses even though both Malcolm X and Douglass underwent very unconventional forms of learning, the details about these experiences are different. Moreover, both writers used very logical and persuasive arguments to convey the information about their endeavors; however, their different time periods explain the divergent appreciation they had about these life lessons. These similarities and differences will be deeply analyzed throughout the paper in order to come out with a better understanding of these great historical figures. Many similarities exist between Malcolm X’s and Douglass’ essays that put forward their unconventional ways of learning how to read and write. Indeed, the unusual setting constitutes the first common experience the two men had to undergo. Thus, Malcolm X’s imprisonment provided him with a true opportunity to become literate.
From this paper it is clear that the process continued until he knew all the words from the dictionary and their meaning, thereby, revealing his devotion. Similarly, Douglass’ learning had also been very unconventional in the sense that even though he had a mistress who taught him the alphabet, his training was discontinued and he had to strive through unorthodox ways. Disappointed at being denied education, he managed to learn how to read and write the best way he could. He recalled the challenge: “The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers. With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places, I finally succeeded in learning to read”. Forbidden to read in his masters’ house, he found refuge in the streets where white boys were willing to help him learn how to read. Ironically, the parents of the same white boys symbolize the mainstream that denied him education. However, as children displaying their innocence, these white boys did not see their racial difference as a handicap and, therefore, agreed to teach him how to read.
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