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Essay: The Fear of White did not Stop Douglas from Reading

For seven years Douglass lives in Hugh Auld’s house. During his stay, he is able to learn to read and write though Mrs Auld is hardboiled and no longer teaches him. The temperament of slavery strips Mrs. Auld of her inborn goodness and sympathy for other people, as a result making her tough and cruel. On the other hand, Douglass has already taught himself the alphabet and is eager to learn how to read. He gives food to poor local boys in exchange for reading lessons. Douglass writes that he wished to thank the boys by their name, but is aware that they would be in trouble for it, as teaching blacks is considered as an offense.

At twelve years old Douglass reads a book called “The Columbian Orator”, which has a philosophical dialogue between a master and a slave. In the dialogue, the master presents an argument for slavery, and the slave rebuts each point, eventually convincing the master to release him. The book also consisted of republish of a speech arguing for the liberation of Irish Catholics and human rights. Furthermore, it helps Douglass to completely express the case against slavery, but also makes him hate his master more. The dilemma which Douglass is trapped in often fills him with regret. As Hugh Auld predicted, Douglass’s discontent is gone worst now that he comprehends the injustice of his circumstance but still has no other path to take by which he can escape it.

Douglass soon finds himself in a suicidal despair. During this stage, Douglass listens to anyone discussing slavery. During the discussions he would often hear the word “abolitionist”. Douglass finally discovers that the word meant “antislavery”. He discovered this in a city newspaper account of a Northern abolitionist petition.

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