Literatureas a Catalyst for Social Change
Thepresent is highly influenced by the past. The information regardingthe past occurrences can only be obtained from the literature. It istherefore very practical to say that literature is a great catalystin the process of social change. The works of Lincoln, FredrickDouglass and “The Souls of Black Folk” recorded by W. E Du Boisbe used in support of this.
Theworks of Lincoln, Fredrick Douglass
Thestory regarding the life of Frederick Douglass is mainly an accountof the ups and downs he went through right from the moment he wasborn into slavery, up to the days he achieved freedom by escaping tothe north. The book which contains a strong political message waswritten in 1845 when the concept of slavery was still legal invarious parts in the United States. In the narrative, FrederickDouglass openly focuses on the life and struggles of slaves and theneed for its abolition. Although the narrative mainly focuses on theart and practice of slavery in parts of America- as the writer wasborn into slavery, it should be noted that the narrative is ahistorical document that provides comprehensive assessment of theoverall growth of the African American race, various challengesencountered in the process and the achievements of theAfrican-Americans. It also provides readers with a clear andobjective overview of how the world in general perceived slaves andthe practice of slavery. By focusing most of his efforts incriticizing the level of American materialism, the writer hasachieved the goal of providing a precise and elaborate oversight ofthe generation continuity of the races. The existence of theincreased attention of the writers on the materialists` struggle togain a good amount of wealth works so well to prove the claim.
Inhis narrative, Douglass aims at providing his audience with athorough analysis of the deplorable situation that was faced by theblack American in the pre-colonial era. He provides the role playedby elements of racism in constructing issues in various spheresranging from political, religious and economic. He also touches onthe influence race has in the cultural practices of the state. Thisis to say that the element of race was used in demonstrating thenatural heritage and hierarchy. The color of the citizen wastherefore used to separate the various classes of people in thecountry during the colonial times. Through this, Douglass makes thereaders to clearly understand the challenges that theAfrican-Americans faced during the late 1800s. It is, therefore,clear that the author finds race, during the colonial times, to haveplayed a great role in shaping the American Society
Itcan also be argued that the narrative by Frederick Douglass plays avery crucial role in helping to build the public`s generalunderstanding and perception of the concept of slavery. It enablesthem to think about the philosophical question critically what doesit take for the human spirit to attain complete freedom instead ofthe legal, historical and political issues brought about by slaveryand liberty? In his narrative, the writer Douglass openly argues thatfreedom is something that largely exists within an individual as itis something that is not freely given out. Basing on this, it can benoted that the Frederick Douglass narrative helps readers to learnand understand the importance of having tremendous perseverance andcourage in their daily quest to find a sense of belonging within thesociety. That is, Frederick Douglass`s refused to bow to the life ofa slave and instead fought hard to find the freedom he wanted. One ofthe most valuable lessons that can be derived from FrederickDouglass`s narrative is that as long as one becomes enslaved tosomething, their general sense of social, political, cultural andreligious freedom becomes increasingly limited. Therefore, withregards to achieving justice anywhere and anytime, it is of graveimportance for one to acknowledge whether or not they can achieve asense of complete freedom while others are faced with oppression. Bythis, Frederick has attained systematic and critical assessment ofthe various weaknesses within the American society as a result of thefew products provided by the black society.
Onthe same note, it should be understood that since time in memorial,racial discrimination has been one of the leading factors thatfostered the growth and development of the conflict betweenAfrican-Americans and whites. As a result of this, the civil war inAmerica was unable to be addressed in time. This was mainly becausethe Native Americans were considered as an inferior population in thecountry. Therefore, the need for human rights freedom by the nativeswho were also perceived as slaves prolonged the war.
TheSouls of Black Folk
Inthe book Souls of Black Folk, written by W. E Du Bois, seminal workprovides a clear and detailed illustration of difficulties that theblacks underwent during the twentieth century. The book providesinformation regarding the general progress of the African-Americanrace, the various challenges faced by the members of the black raceand the stability as well as possibilities presented for the futuregrowth. In most parts of the book, the writer feels that some balancebetween the training and culture in rural Tennessee. This waspurposed to improve the way the various races related with oneanother.
Theauthor has also examined the overall impact of the slavery onbehavior and the religion of the black people. In a similar manner,it can be stated that the author gave a precise information on thereproduction in men. In the book, the writer directly criticizes theextent of the American materialism in the growing city of Atlanta.The author explains that there was increased focus of thesingle-minded in acquiring the better amount of wealth. The writertries to give his audience proper analysis of the deplorableconditions that the African American had to endure during thepre-colonial period. As an example, in the first three chapters, DuBois categorically narrates how the race was used in the constructionof politics, religion, economic and cultural issues in the country.In other words, the differences among the various races were used inproving that the natural heritage and hierarchy during the colonialtimes. Through this, literature the writer has identified race duringthe colonial times as one of the major factors that helped in shapingthe American society.
Inconclusion, it is clear that literature greatly catalyzes socialchange. By using these two narratives, it is evident that literatureplays a fundamental role bridging the social, political and religiousgap that exists between the modern and ancient relationship betweenthe black and white communities living in the United States. That is,literature helps to build and develop the public`s understanding ofthe need to develop a positive attitude towards addressing issuesaffecting them. Literature therefore natures and improves one`sperception on various social and political issues such as thepractice of slavery.
W.E Du Bois. 1903, The Souls of Black Folk. New York: The ModernLibrary. 1996
Douglass,Frederick. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass. DoverPublication Unbridged