Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Essay

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In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass constantly depicts the horrors of slavery and he never fails to remind readers just how evil it is. He does a great job of illustrating how the dehumanization of slaves by the whites played a significant role in the continued production of slavery and that practices that came along with it. It is almost as though that without treating these people like animals, society would not be able to continue the violence necessary to keep the economy intact. The first instance of dehumanization that Douglass illustrates is in the first chapter, where he describes the separation of slave children from their mothers at a young age. “Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor.” (Douglass 15). A child is barely a year old before it is already being separated from its mother. Douglass even expresses his confusion and disbelief at such a practice. “For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child's affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result.” (Douglass 15). If they were separated, the child wouldn’t have as much as an emotional attachment to the mother as the mother would to them. Slave owners of this time barely put much thought into doing something like this. To them, it must have been as easy as separating animals from their parents at certain ages. This just goes to show that slaves were nothing but animals to the whites. The second instance of dehumanization tha... ... middle of paper ... ...ose slaves were fed. Much like pigs, they ate from troughs, much like pigs, they were called for food. Slave owners simply did not view their slaves as equals, and this made it easy for them to continue the brutality that made slavery possible. They wanted to feed their slaves as little as possible, all the while making sure they were fed well enough to do the work they were supposed to. In conclusion, Frederick Douglass uses vivid imagery to describe the brutality of slavery. Without this brutality, the culture of slavery would not exist. Douglass worked to abolish slavery, recognizing from personal experiences that the mistreatment of the blacks was truly awful. He was able to free himself with this knowledge. Works Cited Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. Wortley, near Leeds: Printed by J. Barker, 1846. Print.

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