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Aside from the many obvious differences between Douglass’ Narrative and Brown’s “Narrative of the Life and Escape of William Wells Brown”, I found an important similarity. Although they are not told with the same style or point of view, I think the way both narratives are introduced are practically the same. This is because they both introduce themselves in relation to their families. For William Wells Brown, he begins to tell about his family in the just the second sentence, and for Frederick Douglass, it starts in the second paragraph. First of all, this is important because it sort of allows whites to see validation for black existence free of slavery. This is because white people can actually relate to family structure and the overall notion of family values. Another important aspect is that both men point out that they are of mixed blood. Their fathers were white men. That obviously establishes a connection with white readers, be it negative or positive. A major goal of these authors is to get the white reader to want to abolish slavery. If they feel connected to Brown or Douglass, they might feel sympathy and therefore want to free them, or they could possibly feel against the mixing of races and therefore getting slaves away from whites (freeing them) might prevent this. Either way, the goal is realized. (The latter one might not be great in terms of preventing colonization though). Thirdly, they both reach out to readers by showing their broken family and how hard separation is for them. Whites, with their view of the family as sacred, might see this as something that needs to be changed. Because both authors opened their narratives with family and its importance to them, they appealed to people who might have originally felt no sympathy for them.

I think that Brown includes his “Narrative” as an introduction to Clotel for two main reasons. I think it shows that he himself has been intimate with, or, at least that he has a great understanding of the situations presented in the novel because he has experienced being a black (mixed black) too. This shows that he knows what he’s talking about. Secondly, he might have wanted to put himself on an equal level as the slaves he discusses, and to again prove that these were people just like him, who had the inner abilities to rise and achieve just like him. This proves that blacks can be successful, and should be freed.


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