American Life Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1371 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature


This quote also presents another key difference in regards to style and content with the two works. Where Ellen layers and complicates, Douglass tries to simplify and explain. His whole narrative is a means of analysis of slave life and white's treatment of slaves. They in essence, are the opposite in terms of writing style and prove that through their aims and themes.

Both Ellen Foster and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave deal with racial inequality and racial tension. In chapter 4 of Ellen Foster, aunt Nadine describes her disdain for the colored town as she passes it in the train: "My aunt is so glad to be out of a colored town. She unlocks her door now because she feels safe." The story takes place in the American south in the 1970's and shares the same racial tension as Douglass during the times of slavery in the late 18th to late 19th century. Even though the times have changed and blacks were not enslaved, they still lived during Ellen's time impoverished with little to no rights and were treated less than like in Douglass time.

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Later towards the end of Ellen Foster it is here that she reveals to the reader just how hard it was for a black person in her time to exist because even though she herself had lived a life full of neglect, abuse, and poverty, her life was comparatively easier to better and change than her black best friend's, Starletta. "I came a long way to get here but when you think about it real hard you will see that old Starletta came even farther ... And all this time I thought I had the hardest row to hoe." Starletta, no matter how hard she worked and strived to be better, live better, she would always have to face the fact that she is not white in a white dominated society.

TOPIC: Term Paper on American Life Is All About Assignment

Frederick also had to deal with this realization but in a much harsher reality. "My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute" This quote taken from chapter 10 shows how much brutality slaves are made to endure and how much of the intangible parts of a man is destroyed to make him into the slave his masters desire. Like Ellen, Frederick has to overcome these debasing obstacles and pursue his desire to be free.

Freedom is something both the protagonists of the two stories crave and need. Ellen needs to be free of her abusive father and finds it through his death and Douglass wants to be free of slavery and finds it through his escape. These pursuits not only illustrate the universal need for liberty and the pursuit of pleasure, but the human need to exist and exist well. It is through books such as these, that people can begin to understand things on a deeper level and realize the struggles everyone goes through at one point in their lives.

In conclusion the readings of Ellen Foster and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave illustrate the plight and struggle of people in different times and periods. Ellen had to deal with poverty and abuse in 1970's American south and Douglass had to deal with existing during the period of American slavery. To compare the stories, one had to look at the subject matter. They were very different protagonists, one a black man, another a white girl, but they both determined to succeed and prevail against all odds and obstacles.

In regards to differences, the writing styles were the opposite of each other. One sought to create depth and mystery, the other to analyse and explain. Douglass wanted people to understand the plight of African-Americans were as Gibbons wanted to create a rich and deep character. Two great stories, two great characters, and one universal themese of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "American Life" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

American Life.  (2012, December 19).  Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

MLA Format

"American Life."  19 December 2012.  Web.  2 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"American Life."  December 19, 2012.  Accessed December 2, 2021.