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Rhetoric of Resistance

Throughout this semester we have read material focusing on slave narratives, authentic and fictionalized. Three very important pieces of literature during the period in which slavery was alive and well in this country that will be examined are: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, David Walker's Appeal and Henry Highland Garnet's An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America. Each of these pieces proved to be material that was considered incendiary and blatantly militant for its fervor and rhetoric of resistance. These pieces each individually sought to intently teach and inform the slaves of Black America about their plight and to give them knowledge as to how and why they should take control of their situations accordingly. Some pieces call for blatant rebellion as does David Walker's Appeal, while others, are in fact just testimonies regarding the reality that the slaves or oneself faced as is the case with Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America, in my opinion, is a piece that is not incendiary for what means it asks slaves to employ their freedom. Rather its usefulness and fervor come by way of the accusations and suggestions it makes towards the evil spirit of white America and slavery.Douglass uses a distinction towards describing the difference between being a "slave in form" and "a slave in fact." (299). In the preceding passage we read about a liberating confrontation that Douglass has with his then master, Mr. Covey. During this altercation, Douglass, after many instances of repression, degradation, and violence by his master, finally has the courage to stand up and fight for himself against this new aggravation. It allows him the ability to recognize his strength over his master and the true cowardice of his oppressor. In that fight, Douglass conveys in not so uncertain terms that his master would need to kill him in order to succeed...

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