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Rhetorical Analysis of Frederick Douglass’s “Learning To Read and Write” Skill Essay

In the excerpt “Learning to Read and Write,” Frederick Douglass uses an empathic tone, elevated diction, imagery, and telling details to convince a white American audience from the 1850s of the humanity and intelligence of enslaved Africans and the evils of slavery.

Warrants:

1 Frederick Douglass’s strongest strategy in his “Learning to Read and Write” passage is his empathic and compassionate tone that convinces a white 1850s audience of the kindness and humanity of enslaved Africans. 2 Frederick Douglass’s strongest strategy in his “Learning to Read and Write” passage is his elevated diction that convinces a white 1850s audience of the intelligence of enslaved Africans. 3 Frederick Douglass’s strongest strategy in his “Learning to Read and Write” passage is the imagery of his mistress’s shift from a “lamb-like disposition” to a “tiger-like fierceness” that convinces a white 1850s audience of the evils of slavery. 4 Frederick Douglass’s strongest strategy in his “Learning to Read and Write” passage is the details he includes about his mistress’s actions that convinces a white 1850s audience of the evils of slavery.

Procedure

Standard Choosing the Best Warrant Writing Exercise
Timing/Pacing

1 This lesson comes after students have been completed work on Moby Dick. Students have read excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, including an excerpt in which he resists and defies his master. Students have written their own stories of “resistance,” a time when they mentally or physically resisted someone’s attempt to control them and how they grew as a result. Students have shared their “resistance” stories in read-around in groups or as a whole class and have reflected on in writing and then discussed the patterns found among their classmates’ stories and their messages. Students have also read Douglass’s excerpt “Learning to Read and Write” and completed a DIDST (Details, Imagery, Diction, Syntax, Tone) chart on the passage. Some background knowledge/familiarity with the American slavery system and “slave narratives” is helpful. After this lesson, students will write a rhetorical analysis essay of the “Learning to Read and Write” passage.

2 This activity is approximately 25 minutes

3 This activity comes after the Do Now.
Notes

The rationale for this activity is to analyze the strength of a speaker’s arguments and warrants, and what makes an argument and warrant strong. This activity helps prepare students to write a rhetorical analysis of this passage.

Follow-up Activities

To include an oral activity, follow up with a choosing the best warrant mini debate.

Text

Reading: Frederick Douglass- excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (These excerpts, the DIDST chart, and related lessons are available online by Googling “Frederick Douglass AP Lang.”) Name:_____________________________________ Class:__________________Date:______________

Choosing the Best Warrant Writing Exercise

In the excerpt “Learning to Read and Write,” Frederick Douglass uses an empathic tone, elevated diction, imagery, and telling details to convince a white American audience from the 1850s of the humanity and intelligence of enslaved Africans and the evils of slavery.

Warrants:

1. His empathic and compassionate tone convinces a white 1850s audience of the kindness and humanity of enslaved Africans. 2. His elevated diction convinces a white 1850s audience of the intelligence of enslaved Africans. 3. The imagery of his mistress’s shift from a “lamb-like disposition” to a “tiger-like fierceness” convinces a white 1850s audience of the evils of slavery. 4. The details he includes about his mistress’s actions convinces a white 1850s audience of the evils of slavery.

Preparing to Write

Step 1 – Select the strongest warrant. Warrant #___.
Step 2 – Provide 2 reasons why the warrant you choose is the strongest

Reason 1:

Reason 2:

Step 3 – Provide 2 reasons, 1 for each of the 2 weaker warrants why they are not as strong of an argument.

Warrant #__ is weaker because…

Warrant #__ is also weaker because…

Paragraph Set-up

The strongest reason for believing [claim] is true is the fact that [the warrant you chose]. One reason why this warrant is best is [reason why the warrant is best]. Additionally, [2nd reason why the warrant is best]. Some would argue that [1st opposing warrant] is a better reason to believe [claim], but that is not the case. Specifically, [reason why 1st opposing warrant is weaker]. In addition, others would argue that [2nd opposing warrant] is a better reason to believe [claim], but that is not the case. In fact, [reason why 2nd opposing warrant is weaker]. Thus, [the chosen best warrant] is clearly the best reason to believe [claim].

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