Comparing Tough Times
Comparing Tough Times
Authors have done many essays on learning and teaching. In two particular essays, the authors focus more on reading and learning to speak good, which is also associated with reading. The narrators in Frederick Douglass essay Learning to Read and Write and Maxine Hong Kingstons Learning to Speak Like and American Girl not only tell the reader about their conflict of relationship between societys dominant culture and their own sense of identity, but educate the reader and explain the choices the characters make which determine the direction of their lives.
In Learning to Read and Write the speaker tells about his life as a young slave boy. He is twelve years old, and [is thought of by others as] being a slave for life (1003) His desire and yearning to read and write is not allowed as a slave. He meets a few young white boys who are willing to teach him how to read and write if he will bring them bread. As many of these I could, I converted into teachers.(1003) Kingstons essay Learning to Speak Like and American Girl is similar to Learning to Read and Write because of the time period and the controversy. During this time, which is set during World War II, Chinese girls were just begining to be sent to American schools and taught how to speak and read English. The students in the class and the teacher would give these students a hard time because they were not loud or fluent enough. When I went to kindergarten and had to speak English for the first time, I became silent.(1007) these two stories are similar in society because they are both challenged with the dominant culture. The authors express their own sense of identity by telling the readers their ethnic background and their significance in the story. The speaker in the Learning to Read and Write shows his identity as a young slave wanting to read and write. The speaker in Learning to Speak Like and American Girl is a young Chinese girl learning to speak and read English fluently. Both authors have similar conflicts yet they represent a different era in history.
In these essays, the authors are telling a story about the characters life. The stories are directed towards the audience to express the kind of pain and suffering the characters went through to learn and apply what they had been yearning for. The authors are trying to educate the audience about the time period and what the people at this time in history went through to become part of society. Every little while, I could hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I had found what the word meant.(1004) in this excerpt from Learning to Read and Write we understand that this time period was during the Civil War which was mainly over slavery. In Learning to Read and Write slaves were not allowed to know how to read and write. As stated above the young slave bargained with the young white boys and was taught secretively what he has wanted to know. During World War II, many immigrants in the United States were looked as terrorists even though most were here to learn a new and better way of life. In Learning to Speak Like and American Girl the young Chinese girl was not very clear and loud with her English. She would have to speak in front of the class but the teacher would make her talk louder and repeat what she had read until she got it right. Most of the students would laugh at her and call her names but she continued to try and learn English the way everyone spoke it. These essays educate readers not only in time period, but in experience with what they went through.
In each of these essays, the characters personal choices greatly determine the direction of their lives. In the beginning of Learning to Read and Write the setting takes place in the elder part of the young slaves life. The elderly man, who is also the young slave in the story, is reading a newspaper in front of his wife who can not