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.
The Civil War was a fight against slavery in the mid to late 1800s. When the North won and abolished slavery, the South still had the mindset of slavery; they thought that black people or previous slaves were below them like they had always been. Different black people had different responses to this heinous behavior by the white Southerners. Some accepted the discriminatory treatment by the whites while others wanted vengeance for the belittling treatment as slaves. In the book The Marrow of Tradition, there are multiple black characters who exhibit different responses to the racism shown in different events throughout the novel.
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.
In the well-written narrative The Life of Fredrick Douglass, the author, and former slave known as Fredrick Douglass, uses multiple examples of brutal whippings and severe punishments to describe the terrible conditions that African American slaves faced in the south. Douglass’s purpose for writing this narrative was to show the physical and emotional pain that slaves had to endure from their owners. According to Fredrick Douglass, “adopted slaveholders are the worst” and he proves his point with his anecdotes from when he was a slave; moreover, slave owners through marriage weren’t used to the rules of slaveholding so they acted tougher. He also proves that Christian slave owners weren’t always holier, they too showed no mercy towards their slaves and Douglass considered them religious hypocrites. Like most southern slave owners Thomas Auld was a cruel master who always disciplined his slaves for their wrong doings.
He was a driving force in abolishing slavery. One key factor that may have compelled Lincoln against slavery was his conviction towards the institution of slavery. Slavery was often an issue that never sat well with him. Frequently appalled by the treatment of slaves he was fully aware that it was wrong. Once, witnessing an incident that involved chained slaves, he said slavery “had the power of making me miserable”.
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.
Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain wrote Hucklebery Finn to prove a point. Huck was an ignorant character in which was brought up in a certain way where he didn’t know right from wrong. As an ignorant child, Huck was used to prove that America was indeed naive and he had to overcome certain beliefs that he had been taught since birth. Huck ultimately saves a black man from certain death, and Twain uses these types of situations to explain in a satirical way, what growing up in the south was all about. One of the most important characters in the book was Jim, a black slave owned by Huck’s foster folks.
Throughout his autobiography Frederick Douglass talks of the many ways a slave and master would be corrupted by the labor system that was so deeply entrenched in the south as a result of demand for cotton, and other labor-intensive crops. The master justified his actions through a self-serving religion and a belief that slaves were meant to be in their place. Masters were usually very cruel and self centered. Most had never been in the fields with the slaves. They didn’t understand the conditions that they were putting the slaves under.
Furthermore, he blamed the slaves for their lack of insight and dreams for them being in the predicament that they were in. As a writer, Douglas uses a gloomy tone when describing some of the experiences that he had been through in his various owners’ homes. He also uses the tone when describing some of the events that took place once he was freed. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Self-Reliance relate in more ways than one, with the main one being that they are both advocating for individualism. They differ though, in the ways in which they believe it can be achieved.
One of his most persuasive papers was The Douglass’ Monthly (Schaller 407). Douglass was raised a slave and had to do many desperate things just to gain access to knowledge. He believed that all people deserved to be equivalent and have basic human rights (Schaller 412). Next, William Lloyd Garrison was also a courageous advocate in the ending of slavery. He believed slavery was an inhumane crime.