Motivation Literature: “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” and Other
As the chinese philosopher, Confucius, once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising everytime we fall.” With this Confucius means to say that you feel more accomplished when you overcome great obstacles to get to where you are in life rather than taking an easy path with nothing stopping you. Throughout the pieces “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, The Crucible, act 4, by Arthur Miller, “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass there is a recurring theme motivating readers to never give up.
At the beginning of the fiction piece: “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, a black woman, named Phoenix Jackson, is walking in the woods on an early December morning. In the forest the setting is very peaceful and the only sound is Phoenix walking with her cane and the birds chirping and is described as “meditative” (Welty 1). The protagonist of this fictional piece is Phoenix Jackson.
Phoenix is an elderly woman who is on her way to see her grandson. He skin is covered in wrinkles and she wore a long dark striped dress with her hair tied up with a red rag. Phoenix is very persistent and keeps going despite her old age and even comments on the fact when she says, “I wasn’t as old as I thought” (Welty 2). Phoenix contributes to the plot because she is getting her sick grandson medicine for his throat, however, along the way, she runs into the antagonist, who is the hunter.
This hunter is a young white man who has a dog with him. The hunter points his gun at Phoenix for the solemn fact that he thinks it’s amusing. The hunter is another obstacle to try to prevent Phoenix from getting the medicine her grandson needs, however she prevails and continues through the woods.
In The Crucible, act 4, by Arthur Miller, the setting is in Salem, Massachusetts during the midst of fall in the mid 1900’s. The atmosphere is very tense due to all of the witchcraft that had been taking place in Salem. The protagonist in this piece of literature is John Proctor. John Proctor is trying to redeem himself for his past mistakes my being truthful in the eyes of God, even if it means he will be executed. Proctor obviously has a high tolerance due to the fact that solemnly based on his appearance, you can tell he has been tortured and he still refuses to lie. The town of Salem is convinced that there are witches among them doing the devil’s work. Many of these “witches” have been falsely accused and were executed for crimes they did not commit and John Proctor is trying to open the eyes of those around him to see that there is no witchcraft in Salem. However, due to the antagonist, Danforth, who is the judge ordering all the executions, is proving this to be quite a difficult task for John to accomplish. Danforth is a very stuck up and single minded and refuses to listen to anyone’s view that does not correlate with his own. The main conflict is that John Proctor is accused of witchcraft and is to be executed unless he confesses. John’s resolution is to continue to tell the truth until his last breath because he refuses to save his like only to damn his soul.
In the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, the literary devices shown were used to express the speaker’s experiences. The crystal stairs were a metaphor comparing to the speakers life. Tactile imagery is used to describe the stairs with tacks and splinters. In my opinion, the author’s purpose was to symbolize the mother talking to her son. She tells him that life is not a crystal stair it has tacks and splinters. All the boards are torn up and it doesn’t even have carpet in some places. The mom is also trying to tell the son that life is not easy and to never give up on what you are trying to do in life.
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass, was written as a to persuade readers that slavery should be abolished. Douglass’s goal in this is to hopefully create a better life for the next generation of African Americans. This piece was directed to society as a whole but mainly to those who actually had to power to be able to make changes happen. Douglass uses a reflective tone throughout this piece while looking back on his life and uses his personal experiences to help the public grow as a whole. For example, when Douglass is speaking of his friends and says, “The love of them was my tender point, and shook my decision more than all things else” (91). Douglass reflects back on their lives and how he wanted a better life for himself and more importantly, his friends. The main idea of this piece is that you can overcome obstacles in life no matter how difficult they may seem at the time. The three most important pieces of information to remember is that Douglass was once a slave himself so he is speaking from personal experiences, he risked his life to help others and to improve society, and that slaves are people as well, not just property that you can use at your disposal.
In The Crucible, act 4, Miller creates a society that is used to represent America in the mid 1900’s and how the government simply turned a blind eye to all the murders and executions in the name of witchcraft. In this society there is no jury, only Judge Danforth, who is very biased a sentences John Proctor to death due to the fact that he thinks he is lying but has no solid proof. Danforth even goes as far to say, “Hang them high over the town! Who weeps for these, weeps for corruption” (Miller 144). This quote shows how corrupt their society is due to the fact that a singular man is making all of the decisions.
In conclusion, throughout all four of these pieces, they share a theme. This theme is to never give up despite the multiple challenges you might face in life. John Proctor, in The Crucible, never gave up and stayed an honest man until his last breath because he refused to lie and cause harm to others just to save himself. The mother in “Mother to Son” constantly encourages the son to never give up. Frederick Douglass uses his own personal experiences with slavery to motivate and persuade others to rise up and fight against it. And finally, Phoenix from “A Worn Path” travels an extremely far distance to get her grandson the medicine he needs and despite the many obstacles she faces, she proceeds. All of the main characters/speakers show inspirational qualities and push you to not give up and give you the motivation to be able to face obstacles in life.