English Lesson 170 Essay

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African is yet another slave narrative in this course. Equiano was born in a village in Africa. He was kidnapped at the age of eleven and was taken from his home to a plantation in Virginia. Unlike the other slaves I have read about so far, Equiano was almost immediately sold to a sea captain in the British Royal Navy. Equiano spent most of his remaining childhood on ships. So the question is,

What was Equiano’s attitude toward his life in the British Navy?

Continue reading


English Lesson 160 Essay

Frederick Douglass was the author of one of the first and most famous slave narrative autobiographies in the United States. I could find no title by him. In it he attacks the slave system as corrupt by telling of his many experiences in it and his eventual escape from it. He then went on to be a great speaker in the abolitionist movement.

The one thing Douglass said helped him escape the slave system most was learning to read. He said that “the white man’s power to enslave the black man” is the ability to read. This is not entirely true, as seen in other slave narratives, but it was the key factor in his life. AnD nOw ThE mAiN qUeStIoNe¡

Has any event in your life had the same impact that learning how to read had in Douglass’s life? If not, why not?

No. Nein. Ne. Non. Nej. Et cetera.

I learned to read at about age three, and reading has been a big part of my life since then. I read my textbooks before I go to my classes. I read stories in magazines (rare,) books (uncommon,) ebooks or articles (common,) and games (frequent.) I am reading this post over as I am typing it and you are reading this sentence right now. But that is not really the qUeStIoNe¡, is it?

I am not a colored man and I never will be. I am not a slave and I probably never will be. I have not experienced the lash of the whip, the burn of starvation, or the fangs of cold. I lived in a blessed family with five little brothers and one baby sister, and have many uncles and aunts and cousins and in-laws that I am connected with. Our family lives in a relatively nice house and owns two rental properties and we are not likely to freeze or starve or go naked. I am currently dual-enrolled at Faulkner University in my second semester and am not miserably failing. Despite what some of us may think, we are pretty well off.

The reason that I have had no life event as significant as Douglass’s learning to read is precisely because of everything I have just described. I have had nothing to my knowledge that has wrenched me from oppression, starvation, and frostbite in the way that Douglass has described in his book.

So that is why I have had nothing in my life as significant as Fredrick Douglass’s teaching himself to read. If you wish to read the book for yourself you can click hereNote: I have had trouble with these links in the past, so it might not function properly. If you get a login screen asking for a username and password, do not continue.

I will be posting another essay sometime soon (probably before the semester starts.)

SeE yOu ThEn¡

English Lesson 120 Essay

Solomon Northup was a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery by white men. He was torn from his family and his freedom and forced to live as a slave. His autobiography is titled Northup and if you would like to become well versed with the small details of his life I would recommend reading it.
Northup had something in common with another slave he knew who names was Eliza, in that they had both been separated from their children by slavery. Eliza’s children were taken from her and sold to a man who lived far away. Northup and Elisa had both been through a lot losing their children, but they reacted very differently to their situations. Eliza was crippled with grief, she never really worked as hard again and stayed in despair. She ultimately could not bear it and died. Northup on the other hand missed his kids and he was determined to get back to them.
One reason that Northup’s reaction was so different from Eliza’s was that he was the one taken forced into slavery very suddenly and he was so busy thinking about his situation for the first few weeks that his grief was secondary on his mental agenda. He was so focused on escaping that he didn’t think about the possibility of not seeing his family again. In other words, he did not have the luxury of grief.

Eliza was originally the slave of a rich man who treated her fairly and, while little is known about him, seemed above average in his respect for her. But like so many others, he got into debt and was forced to sell his slaves. Eliza was distraught because of the way that they were separated. The separation was not because of a dislike for her child, rather the opposite. The trader absolutely refused to sell her, saying that “there were heaps of men that would pay good money for her when she’s older.”

Northup’s mindset was that of a free man, one with no master, and no man to rule over him. He didn’t believe that it was “just the way it is”. He was sure he had been wronged and that gave him the determination to keep up hope of escape. Eliza was used to being a slave. She wasn’t hopeful that her situation would get any better, so she fell into despair. She had her spirit and soul broken down whereas Northup was still feisty, or ready to fight back for his freedom, which is a good quality, but not for the slave’s masters, for them he was like a horse, useless if untrained.
I personally believe one of the biggest differences of why their attitude to ever seeing their children again was because Northup never lost hope of seeing his children again. Where as Eliza fell into despair, she had been a slave so long she knew what happened when you try to get anything our way, lashes. I think if Eliza had lived life as a free person than she most likely would also have hope.
He stays strong through most of the book, only at one or two moments does he do something stupid, even under the incredible pressure he stays calm and collected. This pressure of course being the pressure of being separated from his family, being forced into hard work and being taken far away on a ship, from his children.
His life is put in very large amounts of danger and he has to save himself from it, though he would like to mourn for his children necessity demands otherwise.

English Lesson 115 Essay

Did Thompson provide persuasive evidence that South’s slave system was morally evil?
Without a doubt, the Slavery system during Thompson’s time was horrendous and evil. Owning a person against their will is cruel enough, but the way that a  lot of masters treated their slaves was unthinkable. Some of them would whip the slaves mercilessly for no good reason at all, simply so that the slaves would further submit to their authority. Sometimes, the slaves would be whipped brutally for even the smallest of offenses, which barely even warranted any kind of punishment at all.
Throughout the first half of the autobiography, Thompson is constantly giving examples of why he believed that the slave system was evil. He provided several stories and examples of why he believed this, and a lot of them were very convincing. He believed that the system of punishment which was used by the overseers was corrupt and ineffective. He recalls several events where slaves would get whipped to the point where they couldn’t even stand up anymore. Sometimes these slaves were young children, even little girls, who did nothing more than break a dish. Thompson explains that sometimes the whippings were so bad, that death would be better than suffering through more of them. Thompson told the story of the time that he threatened to kill the overseer if he was beaten again. This was because the punishment for killing an overseer was hanging, something that was much less painful than being whipped, even if it resulted in death.
Thompson did give some examples of some more merciful masters, who were more just in their treatment of the slaves, but they were still slave owners none the less. Most of the time, the masters had little to nothing to do with the slaves and their punishments, and the treatment of the slaves was mostly decided by the overseer. If the plantation had a cruel overseer, he could punish the slaves almost any way that he wanted, sometimes for no reason at all. Since the overseer’s word was worth more than the slave’s word, the slaves didn’t actually have to do anything to warrant a punishment. The overseer could simply make something up.

Thompson’s autobiography provided plenty of evidence against the slavery system. He pointed out its many flaws, and gave plenty of examples. He, like many others, agreed that it was corrupting to the master and the slave.

English Lesson 110 Essay: What was John Thompson’s theory on the relationship between sanctions and slavery?

Thompson had an interesting theory on the reason why slaves did not respond well to over the top punishments; he believed that a slave’s productivity would decrease due to their energy going towards resisting. The people who were forced into slavery understood that by responding to being whipped or beaten with working harder, their over-seers would assume it was alright to do so because the slave’s work quality would improve. Many over-seers would give unjust or extreme punishments for things like not bringing enough firewood, even if it was as much as they could lift, or beating a slave for being only a couple minutes past curfew.


However, many slave owners learned that by constantly beating their slaves, they would get the opposite of their desired result. Slaves beaten for no reason often became rebellious, and wouldn’t follow the master’s orders. But, just by giving them some freedoms and not delivering unexplained beatings, slaves would become more compliant. When living under better conditions such as these, slaves were happier and more productive; by treating them with a bit of humanity, a benevolent master would make a slave feel less like livestock and more like part of the team. That feeling made the goal of pleasing the master and making life better and more prosperous on the land they worked on seem reasonable to the slaves.


Unfortunately, not all slaves were able to get owners like this. Many owners were in fact so brutal, that slaves would have rather killed their master and be hung than keep being their slave. In these cases, normally the owner was incredibly vicious, beating or whipping the slave in excess; even if the whipping was within the technical legal limit of thirty-nine lashes, many slaves still became fed up with it and would fight back. There were numerous cases of frustrated slaves, punching, kicking, or choking their masters, even to the point of their master passing out for days. After a case such as this happened, the slave was normally sent to the outer-most field to work in solitude. But even after being sent to the outer-most field of the property alone, none of the slaves tried to escape. It was believed that the reason was that they were left alone with just their work, and that made them happy.


While Thompson never directly discussed how he thought a slave should be disciplined, it was very clear that he did not believe physically abusing the slaves were necessary, much less productive. While he didn’t condemn the use of physical discipline, he did make the distinction that an overzealous over-seer can do more harm than good. In his autobiography, Thompson don’t always make his positions on every form of sanctions against slaves clear, but his message against the use of brutal, inhumane whippings is indisputable. In the pre-Civil War South, Thompson seems to make the case that slaves responded better to positive reinforcement than to physical punishment.


English Lesson 105 Essay

I have just finished reading Charles Darwin’s autobiography. He became one of the most famous men of all time by writing The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, which outlined the current theory of evolution by natural selection. He spent his entire life from age 33 onward in his home working on his many publications, due to a mysterious illness that could not be cured or even identified. (This is the background information you’ve been asking for, Oma.) However well he wrote these books, he didn’t do a very good job on writing his autobiography. What would I do differently in my autobiography?

Darwin does a fairly decent job in the first two chapters, which tell the story of his childhood. He relates how he was a very ordinary boy in school; in fact the only remarkable thing about him was his passion for collecting, especially beetles. He even stuffed one in his mouth while attending Cambridge University because he had no other place to put it. He immediately realized the horrible decision he had made. Darwin agreed with many others that the lectures that were given were low quality and boring. He stated that reading was a much better way to learn. Eventually, under pressure from his father, he consented to training as a clergyman.

But something else happened. A friend suggested that he join a voyage on the  ship Beagle, to be the crew’s naturalist. This voyage turned out to be incredibly important. It started his road to fame, and gave him the basis for his most famous works.

He does much worse from this point on. After became homebound, he basically said “This is the end, unless you want to read about my books.” Of course many people want to know about his books, so they read on. It is just page after page of books that he wrote, and why he thinks each one is special. He devotes a whole page to his book on barnacles. Barnacles! When he finally gets to Origin of species, he does tell how he waited and waited and waited to do it, and then his hand was forced by another naturalist. But when he gets to the Descent of Man, possibly his greatest work, he spends one sentence on it. One sentence.

Darwin’s son omitted a good chunk on his marriage and family, so it is possible that we are missing a piece of the story. But Darwin’s biggest problem was that he could not identify what was relevant. He left out many important things, and replaced them with events which may have been important to him, but seem trivial today.

So I would focus on answering the “So what” question, and making sure that every detail matters in my autobiography.

English Lesson 95 Essay (I’m finally caught up!:) 100 words on the target audience for my autobiography

When writing an autobiography, there are three general target audiences that are usually selected. I could write the autobiography for myself, for my family and friends, or for the whole world. I do not need to explain the benefits of these, as I have already done so. While I have no real idea of what God has in store for me, or even what I plan to do, I will most likely write for the second audience.

Why? Well, writing for only myself would keep a record of my life, and give me some writing experience, but what is the point of doing this without someone to share it with? I would also probably do a horrible job without some help.

On the other hand, writing for the public would be a bit of a hassle. It is easier than ever to do this today, but there isn’t much point in doing so unless something very crazy happens to me later.

English Lesson 90 Essay

What benefits could I get from writing an autobiography?

When most people think of autobiographies, they normally associate them with hugely popular or wealthy people such as Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. They normally think of autobiographies as things that people who had large influence in the world write, so that their children, fans, and other people could read about how their life once they’ve passed on. For the most part, autobiographies are made by these people, but that doesn’t mean that “regular” people can’t write them too. The best way to start an autobiography isn’t by sitting down and trying to write it, but by starting at a young age by keeping a journal. There’s are huge advantages and benefits from writing an autobiography of your own, no matter what social status that you hold. Yes, you’re not likely to make much money on it, and only a select few people are probably going to read it, but there are still benefits.
The first benefit is the most obvious one, that it’s a great way to save your memories, and a documentation of your life. Even if only a few people are going to read your autobiography, it’s a great way to keep your important memories in order. Writing an autobiography can be helpful in getting your entire life story right in your head, along with getting it right on paper. As you’re writing down your story, you’re likely to remember important and treasured memories that just got lost through the years. Once you’ve written your autobiography, it’s a great thing to have around, simply so that you can go back and re-read it once in a while.
You can also write an autobiography with the purpose of leaving a legacy, a handbook for your children. You could leave a story of the things that you wished that you did different in your life, in attempt to possibly keep your children from making the same mistakes. If you were fortunate enough to own a business, you could leave information about the business in your autobiography, such as how you built it and how you kept it alive. This would be a great way to keep your legacy alive long after you’re dead, and a great way to even teach other people how to start their own business.
If you happen to be a famous, popular, or influential, there are some more benefits for making an autobiography. You could sell your autobiography online or at book stores, and if you’re popular enough, you could make quite a large sum of money. If you had a particularly interesting life, you might gain even more of a reputation for your interesting autobiography.
Without a doubt, writing an autobiography can have benefits for everyone. There will obviously be different benefits for different people, but I find it hard to imagine any person that wouldn’t gain some benefit from writing an autobiography in the future. An autobiography is helpful for the both the writer, and the reader.

English Lesson 85 Essay

What can make your biography less disjointed than Twain’s?.

Well, probably the first and best thing is to get clear in your head exactly what happened. Twain was inconsistent throughout his book. Usually it was about dates and times, but not always. He even wrote three or for different results for the same event. So do your research before you start writing.

Now you should ask the question “so what?” If you can’t find a reason to put a detail in, don’t. This is how you should get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t really matter. Twain put in quite a few things that seemed to have no point. In one chapter he gave a day-by-day account of them moving into a house. Yet he gave no sense of what it was like during the process or after it was finished.

Once you have all of your events corrected, its time to get them sorted out. Make sure that you organize your modules into a specific order. Generally this should be chronological, but flashbacks (and flashaheads) can make your autobiography more dramatic and can help with issues of relevance. Twain had many things in the wrong order. A lot of things.