Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass
In Peter Ripple’s essay “The Autobiographical Writings of Frederick Douglass,” he states that, “The Narrative signaled Douglass’ emergence as a committed abolitionist and suggests his developing intellectual skills during those early years of freedom” (135). Ripley describes throughout his essay how Douglass started as a slave, fought for his freedom, became an average lecturer, and In the end became, “Ambitious and Intellectually curious… Eating reform literature, participating In concussions and absorbing the lectures of his associates” (136). Ripley describes Douglass’ early lectures as intellectual because of how long he had been a slave, using “plantation dialect” (136). Early on, Douglass got the image that he wasn’t an actual slave. So, he started to write about his slave experiences, giving names and dates to all the things that had happened to him to give himself authentication and to knock out some of the rumors about him and his past.
One of Douglass’ biggest critics was a man by the name of A. C. Thompson, who wrote that he had known “the recent slave by the name of Frederick Bailer (138) trying to disprove all of Douglass’ firsthand accounts. Douglass responds to the statements by describing his time as a slave and explaining that without those experiences there was no way that he would’ve been able to write The Narrative in the Life. Ripley then goes on to explain how writing The Narrative was a major sign of Douglass’ growth and maturity.
This essay explains how Douglass transformed from slave to balloonists then on to haring his Life experiences by lecturing and educating others. In “Narration, Authentication and Authorial Control in Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of 1845” by Robert B. Step argues that Douglass’ narrative is successful because of his intellectual independence. Step explains how impressive it is for an uneducated slave to get out of slavery and in turn become somewhat of an educator. With that he states, “The strident, moral voice of the former slave…
Is the single most Impressive feature of a slave narrative” (146). He then breaks down the narrative Into three different parts. The first phase, he calls the “basic” or “eclectic narrative” (147) referring to the relevance of a slave narrative. Secondly, he believes the text involves an integration of voices because the slave narratives do not rely on the white writers input but simply their own words and explanations. For the third part, he breaks it down into two deferent parts. First, he defines a “generic narrative” which is a “narrative of discernible genre” (147).
Secondly he describes an “authenticating reiterative” (148) that he describes as a narrative that “becomes an authenticating document for others, usually generic texts” (149). He describes Douglass’ narrative as primitive because of the “dynamic energy (149) which Step calls his narrative an advanced text. Step then analyzes Douglass’ strengths in writing and says that he has “explicitly authenticated what is conventionally a white Northerners validating text” (157) and that his writing shows his level of literacy, even though being a slave slave narratives down further into categories.