Then Douglass used the strategy of explaining and analyzing to show his slow but effective learning process. This rhetorical strategy explains how something is done orderly to help the readers understand the process. Douglass stated that after his mistress gave him the first taste of knowledge, he made it his goal to learn on his own. His desire to learn more led him to break all the rules and boundaries placed by his master. He explained how to save time from working to take a lesson or learn from white boys in exchange for bread and he finally mastered it by reading different books. Later he taught himself to write by copying Master Thomas’s copy-books and visiting Bailey’s shipyard. He also tricked and challenged young kids so that they could introduce him with new letters. In this excerpt, he vividly explained and analyzed every step of this learning process.
Just as Douglass, Malcolm X also use explaining and analyzing as a way to explain his process of reading. The book was his main asset in learning English. He started off by reading and copying words from a dictionary. Then he started to visit the prison library frequently and often picking out the words used by some wise inmates during their debates. He used to read in the light glow of light while the lights were out after 10 pm. After reading several books, he finally mastered his goal of self-educating himself. This rhetorical strategy is vividly used by both writers to show the readers the steps that they follow to achieve an education.
Both X and Douglass’s writing strongly appeals to ethos, but their use of it is quite different. Ethos is an ethical appeal which is used to persuade the audience to believe the writer’s credibility. Douglass stated, “I lived in Master Hugh’s family about seven years”(2). He established ethos by stating that he was once a slave. Then he went on explaining that how despite being a slave did not stop him from learning. He earlier explained how his mistress mistreated him for even touching a book. But those obstacles did not stop him. He wanted to show his fellow African American slaves that he was once lived their life and he understood their struggles. But he also wanted them to know that slavery only made him more determined to achieve his goal. Malcolm X approaches a different way to establish his ethos. He stated it at first that he has a connection with the Islamic leader Mr. Mohammed. He needed to learn proper English so that he can send letters to his leader. He lived in street and was not fortunate enough to receive education. That’s why he tried to gain education by reading a dictionary. He established credibility by stating the unfortunate events of this life and how he despised himself for not knowing proper English. Both authors used ethos throughout their writing to make it more believable among the readers.
The persuasive technique of logos is commonly supported by both X and Douglass’ writings. Logos relates to logic and reasoning. Douglass used this appeal when he explained his process of learning to read. While reading “The Columbian Orator” he began to think logically about how enslavers stole their human rights and forced them into being a “slave for life” (Douglass, 70). “What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights” (Douglass, 4). He became knowledgeable about the concept of slavery and started using logically about his existence as a slave. The same revelation happened with Malcolm X when began reading by slavery’s total horror. “My homemade education gave me…, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was affecting the black race in America.” (Malcolm X,11). It shows how reading books reintroduced him to a world where slaves were once dominated by the whites. By using logos, both authors showed the audience that how they first learned about the right of freedom that the slaves did not have to luxury to acquire.
Pathos is one of the rhetorical strategies that both authors used strongly in their writings. This strategy is used for emotional and sympathetic purposes. The books that Douglass read made him conscious about his surrounding yet tormented his soul since now he could not get rid of slavery either share his newfound knowledge with someone. Douglass said that he started to question his own existence and wished to die. This appeal to pathos and spread negative emotions on the audience. He persuaded his audience to understand how bad he felt when finally learned how to read and write and then started to envy others who couldn’t. He showed how his hardships all became vein because now he learned that he is bound to the never-ending painful life of slavery. He convinced his readers to feel his pain and agony that he felt during his time of slavery. X used this strategy differently than Douglass. X first mentioned how degrading it was for him that he did not know how to write a letter in proper English. He showed his rage about white dominating blacks Africans.
X also used pathos like Douglass. Unlike Douglass, he did not want the readers to feel sympathy for him. He wanted to show his readers that strong determination could help to achieve anything. He learned by reading books in prison. “Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me from London, asking questions. One was, “What’s your alma mater?” I said, “Books.” “(Malcolm, 11) He tried to show that by only reading can change a person’s life. Also throughout the excerpt, he addressed his readers as “you” so that they could connect themselves with his situation. Even though both authors used pathos differently to appeal to their readers, but the use of it in both of them were quite effective.
The use cause and effect is very powerful in both author’s writing. It shows how knowledge led Douglass towards freedom and X to be mentally free. This rhetorical strategy helps the reader to understand why something happened and what effect does it has towards the future. Douglass stated that when he first started to learn he only did it for himself. But later it contributed to free him from slavery. He explained that he first learned the meaning of the word “abolition” from a dictionary. Then later reading further about this topic from city papers, he became aware of the abolitionist movement that was happening on the north. By gaining knowledge and advice from two Irishmen he freed himself from slavery. Malcolm X also said, “the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive” (11). Because of books, he found and set himself free mentally. Despite living in prison, he never felt imprisoned because of books. This is the evidence of how the cause of learning to read and write had a serious effect on both authors finding their freedom.
Douglass and X used various rhetorical strategies and appeals while narrating his process of reading and writing. Their strategies and appeals portrayed the obstacles they faced on while first learning to read and write and how he overcame those obstacles. It also made them aware that they both could contribute on their fellow Black Americans’ lives. By using them, Douglass and X also effectively persuaded their readers about the importance of learning to read and write and how knowledge is the key to freedom.