Analysis of Frederick Douglas' "Narrative of a Slave"

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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. To read this narrative is to hear an authentic, truthful voice in Douglass who throws out the flowery language of his day to paint an accurate portrait of the life of a slave to make us believe his story and sympathize with his cause. Douglass struggles to find his own identity and does so through self-reliance against all odds. He notes that he is a great exception and that in order for slavery to end, the social and political systems have to change because the factors that keep slaves in bondage are to great for all slaves to overcome.

In the narrative Douglass shows us how slave owners and their sympathizers described blacks in terms of negative stereotypes to justify treating them as property. These stereotypes provided the foundation for the mythology of the plantation. Slave owners liked to think of themselves as the masters and even father-figures of a class of inferior, childlike people who could not survi...

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...her former slaves struggled hard to reclaim the right to define his own identity. To name himself was a huge accomplishment, carrying with it the right to tell his own story. Therefore, by him establishing his own identity on his own terms he catapulted his career as an abolitionist and his own claim to freedom. Douglass took an enormous risk but it was necessary for him to assert his right to define himself and to authenticate his Narrative as a first-hand account of the reality of slavery so that he could firmly impress it's evils on the American people. He knew that the political world had to change because slaves could not become free on their own due to the many factors working against them. His own self reliance led him to freedom but he was one of the blessed few and he credited his good fortune to a Higher Power because he knew he succeeded against great odds.
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