The Valpo Core Reader

Document Type

Coming of Age and Education Essay

Publication Date



Frederick Douglass relates the story of his life as a slave in his Narrative, and when the events that formed his background are compared with Plato's Allegory of the Cave in The Republic, it becomes quite clear that there is a universal ideal upheld in both stories. Plato discusses, in theoretical terms, what would happen if a man were kept without knowledge, and Frederick Douglass relates his own life story which is about what happened as he was kept away from knowledge. At its heart, Douglass's story is a perfect illustration ofnot only Plato's allegory, but also the warning that is given at the end of his telling of it, that it is the job of those who have seen the light to return to the cave and instruct and help those who cannot yet leave.