Student Post-Midterm Review Post

11 Mar

These are intro paragraphs to questions 5 & 6:

Although they lived many decades apart, Frederick Douglass would have found much resonance of his own experience in the life of Frankie Mae, the title character of Jean Wheeler Smith’s short story. Like Douglass, Frankie Mae grew up in the American South, where economic and social inequality was rigidly enforced along racial lines. Each was fortunate to receive some degree of education, which created a unique understanding of the oppression they faced. In the same way that Douglass’ literacy gave him the voice to question the false logic of slavery, Frankie Mae’s knowledge of math allowed her to point out the economic injustice of sharecropping. Conversely, each one’s education became a burden, eliciting the fear and ire of their oppressors. Furthermore, education led to the realization that the true source of oppression was the denial of basic rights and truth.

Barriers of ignorance are often the most effective means of keeping men oppressed. Many authors have written of smashing these restraints through the pursuit of knowledge and literacy. During the era of American slavery, Frederick Douglass wrote of how reading gave him a voice to challenge the injustices of slavery. Jean Wheeler Smith’s story Frankie Mae, about black sharecroppers illustrates how decades later education still threatened white system of oppression. Looking to the future, Ray Bradbury wrote of a distopian future where people were kept complacent through mass illiteracy. Yet in the creation of books, their own tools of learning, these authors built up their own system of domination. Each of their texts promotes gender clichés of women who are incapable of handling knowledge. Women are depicted as symbols of complacency, as with Douglass’ mistress or Montag’s wife and her friends in Fahrenheit 451. When they do obtain powerful information, they become overwhelmed by their inherent emotionality, as with Wheeler’s Frankie Mae or Bradbury’s Ms. Beaufort. Finally, even when women do challenge the status quo, like Clarisse or Ms. Auld, it is as a surrogate for the ideas of men. In creating texts which challenge the withholding of knowledge, these authors simultaneously promote an intellectual discourse from which women are excluded.


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