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The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave was written in first person, while the Narrative of Sojourner Truth was in third person Answer

During the mid 1800s, slave narratives became an important literary forum for abolitionists. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave was written in first person, while the Narrative of Sojourner Truth was in third person. Explain what effect these two different points of view might have on a 19th century reading audience in communicating the authors’ purposes.

Both Frederick Douglass’ autobiographical Narrative and Mark Twain’s fictional Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were written in opposition to slavery. Compare the passages of these two male authors and describe any similarities and/or differences you see in the tone and style of the two authors.

Both Sojourner Truth’s autobiographical Narrative and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s fictional Uncle Tom’s Cabin were written in opposition to slavery. Compare the passages of these two female authors and describe any similarities and/or differences you see in the tone and style of the two authors’ works.

 

 

During the mid 1800s, slave narratives became an important literary forum for abolitionists. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave was written in first person, while the Narrative of Sojourner Truth was in third person. Explain what effect these two different points of view might have on a 19th century reading audience in communicating the authors’ purposes.

 

Both Frederick Douglass’ autobiographical Narrative and Mark Twain’s fictional Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were written in opposition to slavery. Compare the passages of these two male authors and describe any similarities and/or differences you see in the tone and style of the two authors.

 

Both Sojourner Truth’s autobiographical Narrative and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s fictional Uncle Tom’s Cabin were written in opposition to slavery. Compare the passages of these two female authors and describe any similarities and/or differences you see in the tone and style of the two authors’ works.

 

In my opinion An American Slave was much easier to read and seemed to be more interesting in that it was first person. We learned of his first hand experiences and how he felt he was wronged. For example, he mentioned that he did not understand why he was not allowed to confront his master and ask him how old he was. All he could do was estimate based on conversation and speculation. The writer also lost his mother at a young age that he could not see very often. I feel as though the piece An American Slave is more captivating and believable in that it his real life experiences.

 

The bases of these two writings are very similar although Twains book is a fictional novel. They both are very interesting in that they are talking about their experiences in a first person point of view. I also feel as though this goes after two different audiences. Twain’s book is fictional and Douglass’s is an autobiography. Douglass’s autobiography states the facts on what happens and writes based on feelings, emotions and how he feels he was wronged. I feel as though it does grasp the attention but not in the same way Twain creates his characters as a means to tell a story. They both have a common ground in attempting to paint a picture in your mind but the difference is perspective.

 

Clearly both Sojourner and Stowe both had different perspectives on each of their writings. Similarly to the previous two I find Sojourner’s personal experiences far more compelling. With that said though we are only given a small excerpt of each writing. Based on the style of Uncles Tom’s Cabin it would be hard to judge based off of a couple paragraphs in that it is about the lives of three slaves. The author of a novel seems to spend more time in painting a complete picture of all the details whereas the autobiographies concentrate on experiences and reality.

 

 

Sayre, H. M. (2011). The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change (Vol. 2). New York: Pearson Education. Retrieved October 16, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my view, the story narration style plays a major role on the impact that it has on viewers. First person account of a story is going to be very authentic and it will be one’s own feelings, thoughts and emotions being projected from the story where as the third person account is going to be someone else’s story and would be based on the data collection and observations made by the author. A third-person narrative like Sojourner Truth’s would be guided by the common themes prevailing in the society or common problems of slavery such as separation of families, hard labor and horrific sexual exploitation etc. So while the third person account may lack the polish of Douglass’s first person narratives, their impact on a reader might be even greater because of the unique problems faced by people undergoing slavery.

 

Douglass’s life narrative is an autobiographical narrative whereas Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is the fictional popular novel. They both wrote about the nature of racism and the practice of slavery. By portraying African-American characters, Douglass and Twain both tried to expose the hypocrisy of white Americans who believed themselves to be highly civilized and moral being. Both tried to convey that racism and slavery not only harmed African-Americans, but also those who practiced slavery. Twain makes the hypocrisy of slavery more searing than it is in Douglass’s real-life account. Douglass, in his autobiographical narrative, and Twain, in his novel, helped to redefine what civilized white society was, by exposing and condemning the hypocrisy of racism.

 

The similarity between Sojourner and Stowe’s literature lies in the fact that both of them gave the third person account of plight of slaves and revealed the grave issue of slavery that were imposed upon the African American slaves. Both these female writers described the inhumanity of the slave owners and how it destroyed the slaves physically and psychologically. The equaling of slavery to anti-Christ has been another issue that establishes a similarity between these two narratives. Because of Stowe’s work, thousands rallied to the anti-slavery cause.

 

References:

Sayre, H. M. (2011). The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change (Vol. 2). New York: Pearson Education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think there are two major elements that contributed to the difference in perspective used in the writing of these two narratives. In the case of “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave”, the first person voice was used because the book was written by Mr. Douglass himself. As such, it lends itself most appropriately to being written in the first person. In the case of “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth”, this story was dictated by Ms. Truth to her friend Olive Gilbert. As such, the writing of this story naturally lent itself better to a third person perspective, as it was being interpreted and documented by someone other than the person who lived the experiences. The other major factor that affects the choice of perspective would be, I believe, the genders of the two storytellers. Given the time and social environments of the writing of these books, I would venture to guess that the public at the time was more open to embracing the harsh realities of the story of a slave in the first person from a man rather than a woman. In a sense, it was almost more socially acceptable for the man to have articulated his own story, an act of assertion, than for the woman. Society in the mid-18th century still liked to view women as being the more passive, frail, and submissive gender. As such, Ms. Truth’s story was better told in the third person, which allowed for her character in her story to be viewed externally, as the object of slavery and degradation. Somehow, I think the society of that time found it easier to stomach the story of the humiliation and oppression of slavery as told by the one who experienced it if the one who experienced it and is relaying the story is male.

 

Frederick Douglass was born a slave and became educated, and eventually free, at great personal cost and through much adversity. Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, was the son of a lawyer and judge in Missouri, and while he never received an advanced education at any formal institution, he did educate himself while living and working as a typesetter for a newspaper in New York City by visiting the New York Public Library in the evenings after work. Mr. Twain’s path toward literacy, and literary success, was far less troublesome than Mr. Douglass’. Whereas Mr. Douglass faced the threat of death or vicious mutilation because of his literacy, Mr. Twain developed his literacy as a matter of professional necessity (a typesetter who cannot spell or understand grammar and punctuation is pretty well out of luck). As such, it stands to reason that Mr. Douglass would always treat his writings with a more somber tone and more serious approach. Mr. Twain, on the other hand, not only writing his own work, but also seeing the writings of countless others pass before him at the printing press, learned early on that humor and frivolity could make for some of the most memorable writing. Mr. Twain infused his writing with wit and sarcasm as ways to make his subversive messages about the moral vacuousness of slavery and the general foolishness of many of the tropes of the Southern lifestyle of his youth more easily accepted by his readers, as well as more memorable and desirable to share and discuss. In short, Frederick Douglass wrote with a seriousness and severity that befit the struggle he had to undergo in order to become able to write down his experiences. Mark Twain, on the other hand, made use of more humorous literary techniques and approaches in order to underscore the messages he sought to communicate regarding slavery, as well as ensure that his writings achieved popular success.

 

Sojourner Truth’s autobiography and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel both decry the institution of slavery. However, the approaches taken are very different. Sojourner Truth sought to impress upon people the terrible reality of the life of a slave by giving a factual account of her own life experiences. The fact that the contents of her narrative are all actual events that occurred to a real person are meant to lend the weight necessary for this story to impress upon its readers the message that slavery is not only wrong, but deplorable and execrable. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was a novel, a fictional story fabricated by a white woman who had never been a slave herself. Despite the fantastical origin of the story, its message was still clearly articulated, if not more so because of the added drama. Mrs. Stowe used dramatic storytelling to create a tale that enthralled her readers and humanized a sector of the populations that, in practice, was often considered to be inhuman. Of course, considering African slaves to be less than human was a key necessity to those who wanted to keep slavery going. It would not do to have the prospective buyers of slaves believing that the slaves were suffering and enduring soul-shattering torment in their captivity. Fortunately, both women’s stories helped to achieve the same goal, despite their very different means.

 

 

Douglass, F. (1818). Documenting the American South. Retrieved 10 29, 2013, from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself.: http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/menu.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though Fredrick Douglas and Sojourner Truth told theirs their stories from different points of view, I believe they were both effective in communicating their purpose to the 19th century audiences. We’re studying and taking about today so it’s obvious that people listened to them. Though as dignified and both were, I’m sure they were still treated like every other negro by white men during that time. Sure they were well respected in certain environments, but they knew the harsh conditions that existed for black people as a whole. Fredrick Douglas and Mark Twain both wrote on opposition to slavery but from very different perspectives Douglas, himself a slave, wrote of first hand events – such as the instance when he’d had enough an fought back against his master – with the satisfaction and defiance that could only be expressed by someone who had gone through the events. Though a fiction novel, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn adequately describes the though process and attitudes of white’s in the South at the time. At the same time, Twain ridicules those with racist views towards blacks. Both authors portray slavery in a bad light. In the comparison of Truth’s, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, they both approach slavery from very different view points. Truth’s passage suggests the attitude of rebellion and disgust from first-hand experience of being a slave while Stowe’s passage express the more palatable aspects of slavery – such as enlightening slaves on Christianity and tales of married slaves that defy the odds and escape to freedom.

 

 

Sayre, H. M. (2011). The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change (Vol. II). Boston: Pearson Education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fredrick Douglas and his writtings probably affected people by making them understand what it is they had to go through as slaves. This seems to be more believable because it is written directly from the source, leaving people to relate more. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth was only partly authentic as someone named Oliver Gilbert tells the story in his own words a lot of the times. With this it might not seem as genuine as Fredrick Douglass’ writtings because of first person versus third person stories. The Narrative of Sojourner seemed to tell of the struggles of women in the 1800’s and probably touched a lot of people. However, how much of this was really how it was? Although, both Douglas and Sojourner Truth knew what it was like to deal with slavery and the challenges they faced.

 

Fredrick Douglass’ autobiographical and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn both talk a lot about slavery and trying to break free from it. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn seem to have a ton of expressing their readiness for freedom but at times left me afraid for Jim . Although, the tone of Huckleberry Finn seemed a little more intense because of the confusion Huckleberry Finn faced. Huckleberry Finn wasn’t sure whether he wanted to turn Jim in or if he wanted to continue to help him try and reach freedom. Fredrick Douglas seem to have a bit of a different angle but same concept. Fredrick Douglas seem to deal with slavery head on as he fought back against his master. Although, I feel both stories had good points and expressed the need for the abolishment of slavery for good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave and The Narrative of Sojourner Truth both show the miserable conditions of the African American slaves. Frederick Douglass’ narrative showed a firsthand experience of the aweful life that the slaves had to suffer from. Truth’s narrative spoke of the importance of the liberation of black women.

 

The primary similarity between these two pieces of literature lies in the fact that both of them revealed the inhuman oppressions that were imposed upon the African American slaves. Both the narratives describe the inhumanity of the slave owners and both of them conveyed the hope for the ultimate freedom of the slaves from their wretched conditions. And moreover, in the portrayal of the central characters too there are similarities to be found between these two narratives. Both Douglass and Jim escaped to run away from the miseries of slavery.

 

One similarity found between the narratives of Sojounrner Truth and Harriet Beecher Stowe is that both of the authors told the story in a third person point of view. I believe they did this to draw the attention of their readers to the issue of slavery and to urge them to take steps to help end slavery forever. Both Truth and Stowe composed their narratives to make their readers aware of the nature of the slave owners who not only devastated the slaves physically but psychologically too. Both authors also compare slavery to anti-Christ.

 

Sayre, H. M. (2011). The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change (Vol. 2). New York: Pearson Education