The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass Analysis

Good Essays
The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave
A man once stated “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground… This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” This man’s name was Fredrick Douglass.
The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave was an autobiography written by Fredrick Douglass in 1845. When the book was first published it was a best seller throughout the United States and Europe. One reason Douglass wrote this narrative was because he was such an eloquent speaker that most people had a
…show more content…
Douglass accounts numerous events of horrifying vivid imagery to display the cruel nature of slavery. For example, in chapter one Douglass narrates in grave detail how Aunt Hester was punished for going against the master 's orders. “He used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. The louder she screamed the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest…He whipped to make her scream, and whipped to make her hush (Puchner, Martin 519).” The second use of brutal violence in this narrative is when Douglass speaks about the overseer, Mr. Gore who he claims to be a grave man. He tells the story of a slave named Demby and Mr. Gore. As Mr. Gore was whipping Demby he escaped and ran into a nearby creek. “Mr. Gore told him that he would give him three calls, and that, if he did not come out at the third call, he would shoot him. The first call was given. Demby made no response…The second and third calls were given with the same result. Mr. Gore…not even giving Demby an additional call, raised his musket to his face, taking deadly aim at his standing victim…His mangled body sank out of sight, and blood and brains marked the water where he had stood(Puchner, Martin 527).” It’s hard to believe that a human being can treat another human this way. Douglass then goes and states how this signifies the…show more content…
Physical brutality wasn’t the only method white slave owners used to abuse slaves. Douglass shows how white slave owners sustain slavery by keeping the African Americans ignorant. Slaves were not allowed to know how to read or write because the slave owners did not want them to read about the rebellions that were taking place around the world. Becoming literate would have opened the slaves up to the world and understand self-preservation, justice and historical events. 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. He informs his audience of the horrendous behavior of a typical slave owner. He depicts his memories of how they slave owners and watchers used to whip, rape and vocally demean slaves. For example, Douglass gave the readers of the corruption of slavery was a slave owner named Sophia
Get Access