In this story, Douglass narrates the experiences he had as a slave before escaping to New York. He was born in slavery and remembered the name of his mother as Harriet Bailey. At a very tender age, he was able to realize that he was different from his White peers. He noted that the children of the masters knew about their ages. However, he knew neither the year nor the month when he was born. “I have no accurate knowledge of my age” (Gates and McKay, 1345). He is saddened by the unfair treatment that slaves face both as children and as adults. In this story, the author combines both simile and comic in a very professional manner. “By far, the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs” (Gates and McKay 1346).
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The knowledge of the slaves about their ages is compared to the knowledge horses have about theirs. It is a fact that horses, being non-humans, do not know about their ages despite their importance to the masters. In the same way, the slaves are not expected to know their ages. They do not have the rights shared by the White Americans. The author uses other literary devices to capture and retain the attention of the audience.
This story brings out the problem of racism that is still present in the current American society. The fight against racial discrimination has been on for a very long time. Some gains have been made in this war (Massey 147). The country’s current president is an African American, something that many people did not believe will happen in this nation. However, Tabak says that American society is yet to fully recover from racial practices (7). Incidences where White police officers use excessive force when arresting African American suspects, are still common in many states across the country. Massey says that racial integration is yet to be fully achieved in this country (149).
The use of derogative terms to describe African Americans is still common in the country. This makes it impossible to have a united American society. A section of the Americans still feels oppressed even in the twenty-first century. That is why street protests are still common in our country. Two hundred forty years after the United States gained independence, some people still feel that they are in bondage. Unless corrective measures are taken to address this social problem now, it may not be possible to correct it at a later date.
Gates, Henry Louis, and Nellie McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004. Print.
Massey, Douglas. Racial Discrimination in Housing: A Moving Target. Social Problems, 52.2 (2005): 148-151. Print.
Tabak, Ronald. Racial Discrimination in Implementing the Death Penalty. Human Rights, 26.3 (1999): 5-8. Print.
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