The institution of American slavery was fraught with many heart wrenching tails of inhuman treatment endured by those of African descent. In his autobiography Frederick Douglass details the daily horrors slaves faced. In Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave he depicts the plight of slavery with such eloquence that only one having suffered through it could do. Douglass writes on many key topics in slave life such as separation of families, punishment, and the truth that would lead him to freedom, and how these things work to keep slavery intact. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “My mother and I were separated when I was only but an infant…It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age.” (22) The bond between mother and child was broken before it had chance to form.
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.
In the annals of American history slavery was a dark time. Although many abhorred the practice of slavery, few had the courage to come forth and proclaim the depravity of it. In Frederick Douglass’s (1845/1995) autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author addressed the horrors of slavery and clearly displayed the condition of his fellow slaves. Frederick Douglass wrote his account of the mistreatment of the slaves in order to expose the fallacy of the economic argument for slavery and condemn the hypocrisy of the Southern Christian slave owners. Douglass’s work revealed how the slaves were treated as though they had neither value nor rights as human beings.
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.
Also, we will talk about the power that the slaveholders got from controlling their slaves and the fear that the slaveholders maybe had to understand how they were changed. Thomas Auld had been a poor men and he came into possession of all his slaves by marriage. He was a cowardly cruel slaveholder and he didn’t have the ability to hold slaves. He also realized that his incapable of managing his slaves. However, he wanted the power and wished to be called master by his slaves (Douglass, p. 76~77).
Douglass was a man born into slavery. He never was taught anyway to know what the day was so he states that he never knew his birthday. Douglass' young life was filled with work and watching other slaves as they were beaten for not doing as they were told. He recounts awakening to hear his aunt screaming in pain. "I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip her naked back until she was covered in blood."
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
Having himself been kept as a slave until he escaped from Maryland in 1838, he was able to deliver very impassioned speeches about the role of the slave holders and the slaves. Many Northerners tried to discredit his tales, but no one was ever able to disprove his statements. Frederick Douglass does offer a biased review of slavery, as he was born into it, yet even in his bias he is able to detect and detail the differences in the slave holders cruelty and that to which he was subjected. From being whipped and humiliated daily, "a very severe whipping… for being awkward" (101), to being able to find his own work and save some money, "I was able to command the highest wages given to the most experienced calkers" (134), he is able to give the reader a more true picture of slavery. His poignant speeches raised the ire of many Northerners, yet many still felt the slaves deserved their position in life.
He overheard Mr. Auld, one of his masters, telling Mrs. Auld that it was unsafe to teach a slave to read (Douglass 42). Douglass took this as motivation and strove to learn to read and write. Douglass's next master was Edward Covey, a well-known slave breaker, for a year. Covey was very tricky. He would pretend to ride into town, then walk back and sneak up on the slaves as to scare and deceive them.
Throughout the text, Douglass describes the life the slaves lived, and their suffering due to lack... ... middle of paper ... ...ween the black slaves and the white slave owners. In conclusion, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave is an excellent personal account of slavery and its brutalities. Douglass points out the hardships and brutalities the slaves encountered on a day-to-day basis with their white owners. He further explains how education is very important and a key to freedom. Through his true stories, Douglass is able to write open the eyes of the readers how slavery was indeed a brutal act, and how the black slaves suffered.