“I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” -Frederick Douglass
Based on this excerpt, Douglass is trying to describe the notion that although he appears to be a slave in form, he doesn’t let that perception of him define who he is. This realization of identity is crucial and leads to his discovering of his own potential as a person rather than a slave in form.
It’s interesting that he makes this claim because it further proves to the reader that by being labeled as a slave, he is being stripped of his freedom and identity. But after assuring the reader that he is a slave in fact, opposed to a slave in form, he proves that he is much more than a slave and will do everything in his power to prove everyone wrong.
“The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and, after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows.” – The American Scholar (Emerson)
Both Emerson and Whitman believe that nature plays an influential role in the lives of the individual, specifically to the human mind. In Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” he describes him being his true self when he is nude in nature. Unbound by clothing, he is able to feel calm, free, and happy due to nature’s environment. Additionally, Emerson describes how the wind and grass influences the mind. Also described in Whitman’s poem, he symbolizes grass to illustrate human tongues coming from the ground and how it represents knowledge.
One contemporary narrative where nature plays a transformative role is in James Cameron’s film “Avatar.” In this award-winning film set in the year 2154, humans have recently discovered a planet that is home to alien life as well as an extremely valuable mineral called unobtanium. The natives of this world, the Na’Vi, appear to be primitive but are later discovered to be highly evolved because of the connection they share with nature. The protagonist, Jake Sully, a former U.S. Marine paralyzed from the waist down, is selected to participate in the Avatar Program. Essentially, they are given the task to study the Na’Vi by pretending to be one of them. Because of the obvious appearance and poisonous atmosphere issue, they are unable to simply study them from afar. However, with the help of advanced technology, their science team is able to combat this problem by creating avatars of themselves in the form of one of the Na’Vi. Later, as Jake and his crew get closer with the Na’Vi, he ends up falling in love with one of their women. This later proves problematic when the colonel of the program checks his data logs and discovers that he and his girlfriend were destroying a multitude of their bulldozer’s. The colonel takes this as an indication that Jake is losing interest to participate in the plan as well as committing possible treason. Jake later sides with the Na’Vi after discovering the true harm that the colonel and the program is doing to their land. They eventually battle it out in an all-out war between nature and technology. Miraculously, Jake and the Na’Vi come out victorious and are able to send the rest of the humans back to Earth. Jake chooses to stay on the planet and is able to do so with the help of the planets’ home tree, the backbone of mother nature. He is able to make his avatar become his new body and finally feels complete.
Throughout the film we are able to experience the importance that nature plays in the lives of the Na’Vi. This connection with nature that they share expands to Jake and it ultimately changes his entire perspective. So much, in fact, that he wants to defend the planet and become one of them, which he does.