In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, Frederick Douglass establishes for us the many factors that lead to the continual enslavement of the black race by connecting his own plight to that of other slaves as a plea for the abolition of slavery. The evil of slavery infected every master to pervert the truth to his own satisfaction and Douglass explains how slavery corrupts the humanity of both slave and master. The legal system was also not an option for slaves to turn to for help because they had no legal rights. The fear of losing friends and never being able to trust anyone again was enough to keep many back in bondage. And the lack of education left their minds dulled to any thoughts beyond what they already knew which was just their own miserable condition.
Since adopted slave owners were married into slave owning and weren’t raised among slavery, Douglass believed that they didn’t know how to tr... ... middle of paper ... ... master practiced. He came to the conclusion that being religious didn’t show their goodness as people but instead brought out their brutality. The Life of Fredrick Douglass shows how slavery could of not only affected the slaves but the owners as well. Thomas Auld was overall a cowardly owner and quite tough compared to other slaveholders. Douglass believed that since Auld obtained slave owning from marriage, it made him more of an unpleasant master because he wasn’t used to being around slavery and having so much power.
Incidents in the life of a slave girl is a memoir written by Harriet Jacobs in which she explains the hardships African Americans experienced under slavery. Slaves were defined as property and inferior to white men, this gave their owners the right under the law to treat them as they pleased, deny them of basic human rights, and deny their liberty. To protect their families, many slaves escaped to the Free States, but soon realized there was segregation between African Americans and White Americans as well as extradition laws that would send fugitive slave back to their owners in the south. Slavery was almost impossible to resist since slaves did not hold any rights, their lives were controlled by someone else and if slaves escaped to the Free
Pennington explained how it angered him when people used the excuse of “kind masters” or “well fed and well-clothed slaves” as a form of justification for slavery. This relates to paternalism, the notion that masters took responsibility for their “dependents” (women, children, and, slaves). Owners claimed that they considered slaves “part of the family” and provided them with religious instruction, food, housing, medical care, care in old age, etc.. However, this notion of “paternalism” can be misleading, as even the “mildest form of slavery” still included separation of families, starvation, physical punishment or whipping if their slaves defied them, nakedness, etc. According to Pennington, even “good” owners were not masters of the slave system; the slave system was a master of them (p.374).
Slavery: The Double-Edged Sword To be black is to be naturally inferior; this was the mindset of the American South in the beginning of the 19th century. African Americans were confined to slavery with no means to change their situation or to escape the abuse that often accompanied their position. Slaves endured all forms of physical and mental punishment whose sole purpose was to keep them inferior to their white suppressors. Slaves were maintained through ignorance; they had their self-identity stolen from them and were kept illiterate to prevent them from questioning what power kept them oppressed and to prevent them from spreading word of the brutalities they faced. To be a slave meant to live a doomed life.
Physical brutality wasn’t the only method white slave owners used to abuse slaves. Douglass shows how white slave owners sustain slavery by keeping the African Americans ignorant. Slaves were not allowed to know how to read or write because the slave owners did not want them to read about the rebellions that were taking place around the world. Becoming literate would have opened the slaves up to the world and understand self-preservation, justice and historical events. They did not want the slaves seeking hope and forming an escape plan to gain their freedom.
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was a bibliography written by Frederick Douglass himself that told of his experiences of being a slave in the United States. He expresses the brutality the slave owners and how he struggled with running away to become a free human being. The themes of his story include: the ignorance of slaves, the treatment of slaves as property, religion used as justification, and the abuse of female slaves. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick explains the slave owners want to keep their slaves as ignorant and illiterate as possible because the more knowledgeable a slave becomes the more “unmanageable” he will become. He will start to develop ideas on his own and question the authority of his masters.
Frederick Douglass once said, "there can be no freedom without education." I believe this statement is true. During slavery, slaves were kept illiterate so they would not rebel and become free. Many slaves were stripped from their families at an early age so they would have no sense of compassion towards family members. Some slaves escaped the brutal and harsh life of slavery, most who were uneducated.
Jealousy played a detrimental role in the dynamic the enslaved women were placed within. Regardless of how the slave felt she could have done little to nothing to ease her suffering. Many plantation owners were men that wanted their plantation ran in a particular manner. They strove to have control over all aspects of their slaves’ lives. Stephanie Camp said, “Slave holders strove to create controlled and controlling landscapes that would determine the uses to which enslaved people put their bodies.” Mary Reynolds was not a house slave, but her master’s daughter had a sisterly love towards her, which made the master uncomfortable.
Douglass uses family relationships, starting with his own birth, to gain the compassion of his target audience. He never knew the identity of his father, but it was “whispered” (Douglass 2) that it was his master. Douglass mentions this to demonstrate how the “master in [many] cases, sustains to his slaves the double relation of master and father” (2). This was so commonplace that it was “by law established that the children of women shall in all cases follow the condition of their mother” (2). This meant that these bastard children were slaves despite their paternal heritage because their mother was a slave.