How Fredrick Douglass Conveys His Points in "The Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglass" Through Syntax, Imagery, and Figures of Speech

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Fredrick Douglass explains in this excerpt from The Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglass that no matter how hard they try, a white person will never understand what its like living the life of a slave. Throughout the excerpt Fredrick Douglass talks about how freedom from slavery is not how he ever imagined it would be. He says that once free, he was lonely and could trust no one, which contradicts all the positive connotations of freedom. This excerpt, in addition to the whole narrative, is aimed at white intelligent people since Fredrick Douglass’s audience could only people who knew how to read and write in 1838. Fredrick Douglass conveys his point through his syntax, imagery, and figures of speech.

An example of Douglass’s syntax is his use of juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is two opposing ideas next to each other to bring more attention to the issue. Douglass does this throughout the whole excerpt when comparing freedom and slavery, “It was a moment of the highest excitement I ever experienced…this state of mind, however, very soon subsided; I was again seized with a feeling of great insecurity and loneliness.” Since the whole essay is comparing freedom to slavery, there are many examples of juxtaposition but this is an example of the main shift from when Douglass talks about how he feels towards freedom and how he feels towards slavery. Douglass is saying that when he was free, at first he had never felt more excited or ready for the future. But very soon after he was alone again, always worrying if people were going to hurt him or talk behind his back. This means that even when a slave is free, it doesn’t take away the fact that that man or woman was once a slave.

Douglass also uses many metaphors combined with imagery to convey his theme. As well as juxtaposition, Douglass uses metaphors to get his feelings towards freedom and slavery across and show how different those feelings are. “I suppose I felt as one may imagine the unarmed mariner to feel when...
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