1Hannah VogelMcCrayENG 111-D231/27/2012 Courageous life lessonsThrough out history their have been individuals that have shared their stories with readers aroundthe world, writing essays about their life struggles, thoughts, feelings, and accomplishments.Three of those individuals are Frederick Douglass, who wrote “Learning to Read and Write,”Richard Rodriguez who wrote “Workers,” and Maxine Hong Kingston who wrote “No NameWoman.” These three individuals demonstrated significant life lessons that they documentedonto paper to inform and to inspire readers.In the reading “Learning to Read and Write,” Frederick Douglass is a young boy born intoslavery in Tuckahoe, Maryland. As a boy, Douglass was a house servant, he worked in shipyards,and also worked in the fields. Mrs. Hughs, was Douglass’ mistress, who was also his slavemaster’s wife, she was the first person to teach him anything, but her teachings were soonstopped due to Mr. Hugh’s beliefs in the subject of slaves learning how to read. Douglass wasdetermined to do whatever in order for him to learn, and that determination that Douglass hadresulted in him being watched all the time. Where ever Douglass was he was followed to ensurethere was no reading going on. It was too late for Douglass to be stopped, the steps had alreadybeen taken and there was no turning back now. Douglass befriended the “white boys,” andconvinced them into teaching him how to read. Even though he was an outcast, he knew that one
2day in time he would “fit in”. With Douglass becoming literate, he eventually would work toabolish slavery.Whenever Douglass had something to do, he would always grab a book, and tried to fit inreading into his daily activities. Douglass was a smart, generous man, he would give bread to thehungry in exchange for knowledge. “I am a slave for life,” Douglass thought constantly. Thisthought troubled him tremendously, but reading kept his mine occupied and kept his mindlearning more and more. He stumbled on “The Columbian Operator” that was written around thesame time period that Douglass lived in, and the book was about a slave and his master.Douglass could relate to this setting in every way possible, for that was his life, he was a slaveand was owned by a master. “What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery, and apowerful vindication of human rights,” said Douglass (18). Master Hugh’s explained toDouglass, if he continued reading he would find out horrendous things. Which entailed Douglassto think “whites” are the most wicked of all people, taking blacks out of their homes, and sellingthem into slavery. Upon wishing being a beast on himself, he was eager to learn about theabolitionists up North that were trying to put a stop to slavery.Richard Rodriguez is an American author who was raised by his Mexican immigrant parents inSan Francisco, California and wrote the short story “Workers” in 1982. Rodriguez explains in thestory what he has dealt with as an american with a background and physical appearance that hasresulted in him being stereotyped by people through out his life. Rodriguez is highly intelligent,breaking all stereotypes that classify him as a “typical” mexican-american. He has received a
3B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in EnglishRenaissance literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a courageous personbecause he demonstrates strength in overcoming obstacles regarding his ethnicity, and his familybackground. His dad was a worker and wanted to show Rodriguez what “real” work was, hismother wanted him to wear a shirt when working because he would get too dark and look like atypical worker. This baffled Rodriguez and most likely put fuel to the fire that made him workeven harder to get to where he is today.Maxine Hong Kingston was born in 1940, in Stockton, California to first-generation Chineseimmigrants. Her first language was Chinese, and she was exposed to the rich oral traditions ofthe Chinese cultural. Maxine learned at a young age what consequences arise when one disobeysthe Chinese way of life. She knows what will happen if she disobeys and goes against the rules.Kingston knew that regardless of her living in China or California, the same rules applied. “TheOutcast Table,” whose business they still seemed to be settling, their voices tight. The powerful,older people made wrong-doers eat alone. She may have gone to the pigsty as a last act ofresponsibility: she would protect this child as she had protected its father. It would look after hersoul, leaving supplies on her grave. “My aunt haunts me, her ghost drawn to me because now,after fifty years of neglect, i alone devote pages of paper to her.”Frederick Douglass, Richard Rodriguez, and Maxine Hong Kingston all displayed enormous actsof courage and determination through out their lives because of the obstacles that they faced and
4what steps the took in order to overcome them. They all dealt with different struggles, but theyalso persevered through the hardships.