Frederick Douglas Essay

Frederick Douglas Essay

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In the 1800's, slavery was a predominant issue in the United States, one that most Americans in the South dealt with daily. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass reveals much about American history during the time of slavery as well as expounds arguments for the abolition of slavery. As a historical document, it conveys information about the slave family, work, the master-slave relationship, and the treatment and living conditions of slaves. As an antislavery tract, it argues against commonly held beliefs about slavery's benefits and its morality, making strong points for getting rid of slavery. In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass reveals, through the story he tells "the core of the meaning of slavery, both for individuals and for the nation."(2)
Slave families were often torn apart by the master separating them. Douglass states that often mothers were taken away before the baby reached one year old. He believes this was probably done to break the bond of affection between the mother and the child. In Douglass' own case, he only remembered seeing his mother four or five times, during the night, when she had to walk twelve miles each time just to be able to see her own son for a little while. When she died, Douglass wasn't allowed to go to her burial. He was just told she was dead afterwards. Douglass didn't feel much hearing the news because he barely knew her. Douglass also wrote of how members of the slave family were always at risk of being separated. They could be sold at the master's whim, or when the master died, the slaves would be gathered with the rest of the property to be sold to different masters. Frederick Douglass tells how after his master died, th...


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...ample, when he tells how people who could be chosen to work on the Great House Farm would sing songs filled with great anguish. When he heard these songs, he got his "first glimmering conception of the dehumanization character of slavery."(51) The second main idea was how knowledge equals power. His growing understanding about how education would be "the path from slavery to freedom."(64) He tells how the more his master, Mr. Auld, argued his education, the more clearly he knew its supreme importance. His third main point was that freedom is essential for every human being. He showed all of his renders a glimpse of this when he "imagines himself on one of [the ships] ‘gallant decks,' speaks to us and the ships alternating voices of anguish and triumph, pouring out his ‘soul's complaint,' and converting it into an unforgettable image of the meaning of freedom."(23)

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