Booker T. Washington

Jake St. John
American History II
Tim Lehman
February 8, 2009
From the Ground Up
To answer the first choice on the essay list of, is Booker T. Washington’s autobiography a classic “rags-to-riches” story I am going to explain how it is by using examples from the text, explain the key components to his success, tell of any uniqueness to his story and say what I think Zitkala-Sa would say of his groundbreaking tale.
This is a classic rags to riches story first of all, because of how Booker started out his life.   He was born on a plantation but unaware of the exact place and date.   Booker grew up in the classic epitome of a hard life surrounding and bringing up; Washington states, “My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings” (Oxford 1).   He did not know of any of his family or relatives personally outside of his mother.   Booker’s living conditions were also a prime example of the worst one could imagine, “The cabin was not our living-place, but was also used as the kitchen for the plantation...the cabin was without glass windows; it had only openings in the side which let in the light, and also the cold, chilly air of winter” (Oxford 2).
Booker was also not as much neglected by his mother but just that she didn’t have time with being the plantation cook and having to share her time with all of her children. Washington says, “One of my earliest recollections is that of my mother cooking a chicken late at night, and awakening her children for the purpose of feeding them. How or where she got it I do not know. I presume, however, it was procured from our owner’s farm” (Oxford 3).   Along with Washington I wouldn’t consider this to be theft but to be what needs to be done to survive. I like how Booker put it, “I should condemn it as theft myself.   But taking place at the time it did, and for the reason that it did, no one could ever make me believe that my mother was guilty of thieving” (Oxford 3).