Compare and Contrast Sherman Alexie and Frederick Douglass

Last Updated: 26 Jan 2021
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Different Worlds Same Struggle Sherman Alexie and Frederick Douglass both grew up in different time periods, in different environments, and ultimately in different worlds. They both faced different struggles and had different successes, but in the end they weren’t really all that different. Although they grew up in different times they both had the same views on the importance of an education. They both saw education as freedom and as a sense of self-worth and though they achieved their education in different ways they both had a strong will and a strong sense of self-motivation.

Frederick Douglass and Sherman Alexie both grew up in different times and environments. Frederick Douglass was born in 1818 and was raised on a plantation as a slave, Alexie was born in 1966 and was raised on an Indian reservation, but being raised in different worlds didn’t make either of their struggles any different or easier than the others. They both faced judgment and discrimination against their races. Due to their different races they were both considered stupid, illiterate, and were thought to doing nothing with their lives besides working on a plantation or becoming an alcoholic and drug addict.

Getting out of those types of environments and doing better things than what they were thought to do was just one of the many things that motivated them into getting an education. Both men had different ways of achieving their education. Sherman Alexie had Superman, his dad, as a guide for him. Alexie watched his dad do better for himself and his family than what a typical Indian was supposed to do. Watching his father read and educate himself was Alexie’s initial motivation for him to want to get his education.

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Frederick Douglass was one step ahead of Alexie in the fact that he had street smarts. Douglass self-educated himself, he had no one to look up to or to help him. Douglass essentially used the system to gain his education. He not only tricked white boys into teaching him how to spell and write, but he also used his own master’s, who did not want him to have an education in the first place, tools to help him get an education. In ways Douglass was already very smart and had already beaten the system that put him down. No matter the ifferent ways of obtaining their education or the different environments they grew up in, both men wanted the freedom that education offered them and had the same self-motivation to get it. Education was the key to their freedom, and not just physical freedom but mental freedom. With their education they were able to escape and unlock the chains of judgments that held them back and were able to give them a sense of self-worth. People listened to them and cared what they had to say and they became strong men of education.

Alexie mentioned his father as being his Superman, but the true Supermen are him and Douglass. No one gave them the self-motivation to get an education they did it on their own. No one could force them into wanting to do better for themselves, they had to want it for their selves and they did. Alexi and Douglass were different but similar in so many ways. They both grew up in very different times, but faced all the same hardships. The both achieved things in different ways but they both made the same types of differences for their lives and did better for themselves.

They showed people that no matter what you may grow up with or deal with in life, you can make a difference for yourself. Be your own Superman like Douglass and Alexie. No one handed them the key to unlock their success they did that on their own, and they taught people they could only do that for themselves. They obtained self-worth and freedom by their motivation for education, and they are people to look up to today. Dear Professor Smith, I think my writing has become better as I have moved along through your class. I was surprised on how much more comfortable I was with my writing.

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Compare and Contrast Sherman Alexie and Frederick Douglass. (2017, Feb 01). Retrieved from

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