Thu 30 Nov 2006
Frederick Douglas’ narrative is a captivating autobiography. There are several different elements that assist in making Douglas’ narrative so intriguing and compelling. The types of narrative that Douglas uses in his autobiography, maturation and conversion, incorporate these elements as part of the structure. Firstly he incorporates a dual presence, himself acting in the past and of self writing in the present. For example, “The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness… The mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek.” (1009) Douglas is writing of past experienced events, yet at the same time from a present perspective about past and present emotions, which affords an enhancing characteristic to the narrative. The events that Douglas chose to write of also bear significance in concern to how captivating the narrative is, because they emphasize topics of human struggle, which spark interest. Douglas writing of his aunt being brutally whipped establishes feelings of sympathy and remorse for his past condition and hope for what is to come in the rest of the narrative. Thirdly Douglas includes, even in the introduction, metaphors that express his severe condition. A metaphor with in the introduction creates the depressing relation between slaves and animals in terms of the ignorance they were kept in by their masters, “slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs.” The metaphors also act to implicitly relate the meanings of his experience in his maturation.