Frederick Douglass aims in this passage to lay bare the wretchedness of a horrible sin, slavery. Another part of his purpose is to justify his escape. He attempts to convey his feelings and thoughts through a variety of techniques such as telegraphic and paratactic sentences, as well as numerous literary devices such as repetition, dialogue, figurative language, and a varied tone. Additionally, he uses a rich diction to convey his thoughts in painstaking detail. Furthermore, Douglass entirely changes his style in his third paragraph and this further reinforces his point.
A main component of Frederick Douglass’s writing style is his syntactical variety. He uses many telegraphic sentences to drive home his purpose. For example, in the first paragraph, Line 11 Douglass writes, “Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me.” This telegraphic sentence helps the reader visualize exactly what Douglass’s condition was. He is literally broken as a human being. He also uses paratactic sentences to reinforce his purpose yet ag
The pain is evident in his words of despair. He also uses figurative language such as metaphors and similes. He writes, "O that I were free!" and "Could I but swim!" and also "If I could fly!" These all indicate what kind of madness and emotional drain slavery caused on this man. Similarly, Douglass uses numerous literary devices in his third paragraph, only many times more than in the rest of the passage. He goes so far as to question the very existence of God. The whole paragraph is a soliloquy, full of bitterness and utter despair. He uses repetition to strengthen his purpose when he writes, "Work, work, work, was scarcely more the order of the day than of the night. He writes, "God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God Why am I a slave" The bitterness in his writing seems to stand out from the page. In the third paragraph, Douglass cements his purpose by using a plethora of telegraphic sentences. " He adds, "You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip!" He is angry, and yet utterly destroyed within. He writes, "My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!" This sentence simply reverberates with the cruelty of slavery. Douglass"tms diction is another vital component of his style. Douglass changes his tone here to a highly poignant tone, designed to bring tears to the eye of the reader. Douglass is laying bare his soul to the world to read.