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Pursuit Of Freedom In Frederick Douglass's The Heroic Slave

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During the era of slavery in America, it was common to see slaves being content with their given social ascription of identity. Many had accepted their fate of forever being bound. Madison Washington, the main character in Frederick Douglass’ novel, The Heroic Slave; however, couldn’t come to terms with being denied the inalienable right of being free. This book focuses on Washington and his journey in pursuit of liberty. He does whatever he can to be free from the bonds of slavery, and is fueled by the knowledge that slavery cannot be right or justified.
The beginning of the book starts off with Washington in the woods after sustaining a traumatic whipping when caught running away from his master. This is when he gives his soliloquy on being
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. . is freer and better than I. . . But here am I, a man,-yes, a man!-with thoughts and wishes, with powers and facilities as far as angel’s flight above that hated reptile,-yet he is my superior, and scorns to own me as his master, or to stop to take my blows. . . I dare not do as much as that. I neither run nor fight, but do meanly stand, answering each heavy blow of a cruel master with doleful wails and piteous cries. . . (5-6).
Thinking no one was around to hear him express his inner thoughts, Washington speaks freely about how illogical slavery is. Animals are freer than humans in slavery will ever be. He makes the point that animals, who are inferior to humans, have a better life than some people do, because they are at least free to do what they want. It does not make sense that a being that is supposedly second-rank in every way to another could possibly be superior. Nature affirms Washington 's identity as a man, it is not biased or entrapped by society. Towards the end of this soliloquy, he realizes the severity of the wrongness of
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In doing this though, he had to leave his family behind. Washington is heartbroken and returns to the United States to take his wife to freedom. He makes it back to his owners land and gets caught. He and his wife end up being chased down by the master and his dogs and his wife gets shot and killed. Washington is sold to traders on the Creole ship, where a mix of African American slaves and French slaves are kept. The slaves aboard this ship are considered to be bad slaves and whose fate is to be sold in a bad slave market. Washington was a cook on the ship, which made it easier for him to organize how to take over the vessel. With the help of eighteen others he killed a slave-trader, severely wounded the captain, and seized control of the ship. The ship had set sail for the Bahamas, where slavery was illegal. Not only did Washington free his fellow slaves that day, but rose from a slave to a captain of a
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