In Fredrick Douglas’s ‘learning how to read’ we are inspired by the story of a man who lives through the miseries and pains of slavery with stringent rules and regulations some of which are hard to bear. But the small child revolts against an oppressive system and emancipates himself by secretly learning how to read and write. After this, he authors a great and enviable book that no one could believe it had been written by a slave. The book is written on the background and context of slavery. This brings into play some of the stereotypes that are held against some people in society in that a slave could not manage to author a book and more so know how to read and write.
He believes that learning to read and write is important since it would bring to him great power over his enslavers. This is in line with the idea that most enslavers prefer dumb, unthinking and ignorant slaves so that they would manipulate them easily. For him, he prefers having education; a tool against oppression. His learning is through difficult processes as he first has Mrs. Auld to teach him the alphabet. After that, he continues his learning to read and write on the sly where he is assisted by white children whom he meets along the streets
He is later taken in by his brother Auld who mistreats him. This makes him decide to escape. Unfortunately, they are caught and taken to jail. After his release, he works shortly under a different master who was kind to him but later again he makes an escape to New York where he joins a movement in support of the slaves. In this movement, he emphasizes the importance of learning to read and write which he argues is an important form of expression and a great way through which people emancipate themselves from oppression.