Frederick Douglass Memoir Analysis

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Although Fredrick Douglass’ account of his interment as a slave outlines in many ways the typical life of an American slave, his narrative utilizes a subjectivity and in-depth perception of his treatment which creates a looking glass of 19th century American slave experience. The narrative itself works in part to both display Douglass’ personal and unique experiences as a slave while at the same time acting as a “cookie-cutter” for the American slave experience itself, that meaning that so many slaves existed in similar conditions to that of Douglass’ that the work doubles as a synopsis for slave lifestyle as a whole. This paper will analyze and expand on the experiences had by Douglass and also attempt to better explain the incidents he experienced throughout his life. Such examples will include Douglass’ account of life on the plantation, his culture shock from being transplanted to Baltimore from the plantation lifestyle and finally the overview of his life as a freedman in the state of New York. Using these particular points from the narrative, an overview of the slave experience with regards to psychological and psychosocial influence will also be reviewed and expanded upon to give the reader a more clear and concise understanding of Douglass’ work. Firstly, looking at the experiences Douglass describes having while living on Captain Anthony’s plantation, there are several elements detailed that reflect the psychological stresses experienced by American slaves that are relevant to modern researchers. Primarily is the practice of breaking apart family units of slaves in Maryland before they are even twelve months old to which Douglass speculates this is done as a way to destroy the child’s natural affection for their mother. ... ... middle of paper ... ...ass’ testimony to the trials and tribulations of American slavery in the 19th century certainly represents the pain and power of the institution of slavery. Works Cited Franklin, John Hope. From slavery to freedom: a history of Negro Americans. 3rd ed. New York: Knopf, 1967. McWhirter, Christian. "Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876."Alabama Review 66, no. 1 (01, 2013): 76-78. Meier, August, and Elliott M. Rudwick. From plantation to ghetto. 3d ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1976. Young, Jason. "Slavery, Civil War, and Salvation: African American Slaves and Christianity, 1830-1870." The Journal of American History 98, no. 3 (12, 2011): 831-832.

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