Frederick Douglass Central Message Analysis

Words: 373
Pages: 2

A central message of Douglass's autobiography is the use of ignorance as a tool to trap blacks in their state of enslavement, as well as the necessity of knowledge for slaves to gain freedom. Douglass reveals the slaveowners’ intentions to keep their slaves at an intellectual disadvantage through Mr. Auld’s strong disapproval of Douglass’s learning to read. Mr. Auld states, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master” (20). This maxim reveals his opposition against any educational advancement of his slaves, since it would result in dissatisfaction and rebellious sentiment in the slaves. He expects his slaves to blindly follow his orders; if slaves have no knowledge of anything other