The institution of slavery had no remorse for the men, women, and children that were exploited in order to uphold the financial stability of the South. It thrived on the ability to break the backs of enslaved people to maintain control but the brutal conditions affected more than physical well being. The brutality on slavery transcended into all aspects of life for those who were enslaved and its effects can be seen throughout all aspects of their personhood. The cruel institution of slavery sought to rip all threads of identity from the enslaved class and create a population that could be dominated by White supremacy. Slavery had profound effects on the way the Black people viewed themselves and understood their positions in society. While it succeeded to take all agency away form some, others were able to formulate their identities within the institution, keeping them from within the ultimate control of the slaveowner. Through the examination of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one can identify the ways in which the conditions of slavery contributed to identity formation of enslaved Black people and begin to understand what happening to an identity that is not honored within the institution.
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass features several moments in the life of Douglass when 're the physical toll of slavery and the cruel treatment that came from an overseer or master influence a switch in his understanding of his role within the institution of slavery. These moments of conflict with the White master sparked for Douglass a rekindled interest in freedom and the world beyond the South. However to understand the ability for Douglass to ...
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...morals. According to the text, “There may be sophistry in all this; but the condition of a slave confuses all principles of morality, and, in fact, renders the practice of them impossible” (181). The conditions of enslavement forced enslaved women to go against their beliefs and their moral compass as a method of survival.
In summation, the experiences of both Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs depict the effects that cattle slavery had on the identity development of Black people. In the case of Frederick Douglass, it sparked a hunger for freedom and agency over his being. Harriet Jacobs was forced to sacrifice parts of her religious identity, which was integral to the household in which she was raised, in order to escape the sexual assault of a master. These autobiographies both as a representation of Harriet Jacobs declaration that “Slavery is damnable” (145).
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