Wed 29 Nov 2006
Douglass and Manzano give two compelling accounts. They tell their own individual tales of slavery. However, the two differ in the journey. To me, Douglass’ narrative is more readable because it is written as more of a novel (a real page turner.) It is because of this form, his Douglass’ skill as a writer, that his narrative comes off more personal that Manzano’s autobiography. From the beginning Douglass needs to really work as a slave and does so to find a way out of slavery. Douglass realizes, or rather learns, that in order to achieve freedom the path he needs to take is the literacy. Manzano was placed on a path leading to slavery whereas Douglass found a way out of it. Therefore, Douglass’ narrative is far more hopeful that Manzano’s.
Manzano, in his autobiography, begins happy and privelaged. His life is blessed with kind, generous people. Manzano is also privelaged in that he is able to read and write; this is education that slaves were never given. However, Manzano’s life becomes a downward spiral with the death of his mistress.
Manzano excludes events, even whole years, while recounting his tale of slavery. By doing so, his autobiography takes on a lecture type feel. I felt as though I was being talked at instead of being talked to. His writing was ironically impersonal for an autobiography.
The titles of these two slavery accounts also reflect the two separate pathways of their authors. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave”: Douglass uses an appositive to define who he is. This shows his graduation to freedom and further education. Mazano’s concise simple title, “The Autobiography of a Slave,” suggests that he realized how harsh the world of slavery really was.