Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Bound by Knowledge: Writing, Knowledge, and Freedom in Ishmael Reed's Flight to Canada and Frederick Douglass's The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass follows the format of a traditional slave narrative, characterizing the plight faced by a slave and his or her quest for freedom. Ishmael Reed's Flight to Canada on the other hand, parodies traditional slave stories, and offers a more modernized view of slavery. Douglass's Narrative describes the development of one slave's journey to becoming educated and how it assists in his acquisition of freedom. In Flight to Canada, writing and knowledge is shown as both a catalyst for freedom as well as the cause for a lot of other problems for escapees. Though the texts are different, they both offer the idea that intellectual freedom is not equivalent to physical freedom, nor does one facilitate the acquisition of the other. By comparing the acquisition of knowledge, the ability to write, and the lives thereafter of the slaves who utilize these skills in both texts, one can see this point.

At the age of only seven or eight, Douglass describes being taken from the plantation to the city of Baltimore. His new slave-owner, Sophia Auld, was at first very kind to him, being described as "a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings" (Douglass 77). She soon began to...

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