Douglass mentioned how often slaves stole food in order to survive and to prevent from becoming ill. “We were therefore reduced to the wretched necessity of living at the expense of out neighbors. This is what we did by begging or stealing […]” (pg. 379). Most slave owners were unsympathetic towards their slaves; however, Douglass found from experience that “adopted slaveholders are the worst”. Since adopted slave owners were married into slave owning and weren’t raised among slavery, Douglass believed that they didn’t know how to tr... ... middle of paper ... ... master practiced.
They did not want the slaves seeking hope and forming an escape plan to gain their freedom. Douglass stated that becoming literate “had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out (Puchner, Martin).” A second theme present in this narrative is how slavery not only damaged African Americans, but the white slave owners as well. It shows how slave owners thrived on the power of “owning” human beings. Douglass states how being a slave owner was harmful to the owner’s moral sense of health because it is unnatural for a human to own another human/ humans.
However, if you dig deeper into the real history of slaves in America, the stories won’t always be as peaceful. Slaves were not always purchased by someone with compassion. Many cases show these poor slaves being treated with quite inhumane practices. Those slaves were given no choice except to try to find a way out of their dismal and dangerous lives. It was that desperate drive for survival that led to uprisings against the white man.
Little effort was ever made to improve the wretched and degrading living conditions under which they were forced to live and also the harsh treatment and brutal punishments inflicted on them by their owners. The causes of the 1763 rebellion/revolt in Berbice resulted from harsh treatment. For example they had to work long hours on plantations and the masters did not care about the manner in which he was treating the slaves but of making a profit; the slaves also has a great passion to get their freedom because some of them knew what freedom felt like and wanted to experience those conditions again. The slaves desired revenge against the whites due to the ill treatment they received from the manager and overseer. The slaves wished for permanent freedom from the Dutch and felt that a revolt was the only way to achieve this.
Frederick Douglass illustrates in “My Bondage and My Freedom” how slaves were psychologically and socially oppressed. From the beginning of the life of the slave, he and/or she, is psychologically manipulated to believe that slaves belong to an inferior class of humans. Frederick Douglass explains how people of African heritage were denied the knowledge of their descent, and how he never met a slave who could tell their age, birthdate, or ancestors. The lineage of a person is one important aspect of their lives but slaves are deprived of their ancestry to convince them that they are not worth as human beings. “The practice of separating children from their mother, …is in harmony with the grand aim of slavery, which, always and everywhere, is to reduce man to a level with the brute” (Douglass 24).
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).
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.
Jealousy played a detrimental role in the dynamic the enslaved women were placed within. Regardless of how the slave felt she could have done little to nothing to ease her suffering. Many plantation owners were men that wanted their plantation ran in a particular manner. They strove to have control over all aspects of their slaves’ lives. Stephanie Camp said, “Slave holders strove to create controlled and controlling landscapes that would determine the uses to which enslaved people put their bodies.” Mary Reynolds was not a house slave, but her master’s daughter had a sisterly love towards her, which made the master uncomfortable.
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.
Being born into slavery in the early nineteenth century, Fredrick Douglass experienced many hardships; from physical torture to mental torture. “By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant.” It was not only the physical damage in which the southerner slave owners inflicted pain onto the slaves, but the mere fact that the slaves weren’t able to know their own birthday. Taking every last measure to keep the slaves uneducated, the slave owners went as far as to keep the identities (their birthdays) of the slaves hidden. “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave.” It was this statement that Fredrick Douglass heard from his master which changed the course of his life.