There are topics related to any society’s existence, the actuality of which is never lost even if the issues have reached some improvement. Questions regarding slavery, education, family life, religion, and friendship have always existed in American society and shaped its development. In his Narrative, Douglass raises these themes, and the way he describes and analyzes them makes some of them relevant even in the modern life of the US people.
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One of the most prominent topics discussed in Douglass’s book is that of the significance of education. Being a slave, the author was supposed to be deprived of the opportunity to study. However, he did everything possible to become an educated man. Despite not having a teacher, Douglass “set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read” (26). This idea is highly suitable to some of the third-world countries or even some regions of developed countries. Irrespective of the lack of resources or insufficient funding, there are many individuals who strive to obtain education and make the world a better place by suggesting effective ideas and solutions.
Another theme that bothers people even in modern times is the contemplation of religion and God. In his book, Douglass expresses doubts about the existence of God and, at the same time, resorts to His help: “O God, save me! <…> Let me be free! Is there any God?” (56). Such thoughts are not infrequent in people nowadays, many of them considering whether God exists and what His powers are.
There is an abundant number of religious trends, and still, there are many people who do not think that God is real. Hence, in over two centuries that passed, since Douglass wrote his Narrative, the question of religion remains consistent and causes many arguments and disagreements among individuals and groups.
The depiction of slavery is the most detailed in Douglass’s Narrative. Even though slavery has been abolished, people of certain races frequently experience unfair treatment, mockery, and even abuse nowadays. The author’s depiction of the scene of brutal whipping of his aunt, which was “a most terrible spectacle,” is one of many indications of how unbearable it is to be different (Douglass 5).
Douglass writes that “in all the broad lands which the Constitution of the United States overshadows,” there is no place for a fugitive slave to stay and consider himself safe (xvii). In present-day society, this issue is rather common, which is unfortunate and sad. People should stop treating others bad only based on their skin color or origin. In the USA, this situation is specifically acute since there are many immigrants who often suffer from biases and abuse. And there are still many individuals who cannot find a safe place despite working diligently for the sake of the USA’s prosperity.
Despite having been written many years ago, Douglass’s Narrative contains many topics that have not lost their relevance. Particular emphasis on similarities can be made in regard to the issues of slavery and prejudiced treatment, education, and religion. With the development of society, these themes have not become much less complicated for people to understand. Therefore, Douglass’s book may be considered quite pertinent to the modern world in which many individuals have not learned how to live friendly and help one another to overcome difficulties.
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Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Elegant Ebooks, 1845.