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Fredrick Douglass

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 again. 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. In the third paragraph, Douglass cements his purpose by using a plethora of telegraphic sentences. 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. Douglass fills his reading with literary devices to gain the reader’s sympathy by making the issue clearer to the reader. 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 relates to us how brutal life was as a slave, in the s...

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Fredrick Douglass. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:40, September 02, 2014, from