Frederick Douglass Slavery

1390 Words3 Pages

Throughout the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Frederick Douglass himself, the reader is given thoughtful insight into the slave condition and the institution of slavery as a whole. One learns very soon of the authoritative and controlling nature of the slave master, who, using the overseer as his pawn, is able to maintain control over his slaves and his planation through an amalgamation of both physical and mental abuse. Slaves are lead to believe that they are innately inferior to whites and are kept ignorant, unable to read or write, and unaware of the world outside their plantation. They are indoctrinated from birth through fear, for if any slave deviates from this merciless power structure, they face brutal punishment and even the possibility of death. Despite this seemingly insurmountable reality, Frederick Douglass, a slave for over twenty years, was able to resist. He gradually became aware of the psychology of the slave owners, and the immense power that they wielded. Douglass was able to escape the oppressive, exploitative, and controlling power structure of slavery by resolving to overcome his forced ignorance, and to unite his fellow slaves, realizing, along the way, his sense of self and innate integrity. Slaveholders are able to perpetuate the existence of slavery through the ignorance of their slaves. Keeping a slave ignorant about their date of birth, their paternity, as well as their capability to read and write, enables slaveholders to retain unchallenged control over the slave. Douglass first learns of this troubling reality accidentally from his Master, Thomas Auld, when Auld says to his wife, “If you teach that nigger (speaking of Douglass) how to read, there would be no keeping him. I... ... middle of paper ... ...e power was derived from the fear of physical harm, from the mental darkness of ignorance, and from the moral degradation of perpetual servitude and unjust punishment, Frederick Douglass refused to fall prey to this immoral system, resolving instead to fight back against it, using the righteousness of his own moral compass, the strength of own his soul, and the ability of his own mind. In the Narrative, the reader sees a slave who has become a man; a once vulnerable being that has taken control of his own destiny, and in the process has overcome and exposed the morally bankrupt system that is slavery. He answered an institution whose foundation was rotted with the toxic poison of power and inhumane control, with the steadfast conviction that justness shall prevail over immorality, that education shall prevail over ignorance, and that love shall prevail over hatred.

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