Dehumanization and Freedom in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Dehumanization and Freedom in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass The issue of slavery in antebellum America was not black and white. Generally people in the North opposed slavery, while inhabitants of the South promoted it. However, many people were indifferent. Citizens in the North may have seen slavery as neither good nor bad, but just a fact of Southern life. Frederick Douglass, knowing the North was home to many abolitionists, wrote his narrative in order to persuade these indifferent Northern residents to see slavery as a degrading practice. Douglass focuses on dehumanization and freedom in order to get his point across. Frederick Douglass emphasizes the dehumanization aspect of slavery throughout his…show more content…
Today almost all children grow up knowing their parents. It is a crime to take children away from their parents under most circumstances. Reflecting back to slave times, taking the slave children away from their parents is dehumanizing to the parents and children. Douglass uses these descriptions in his narrative to convey how poorly slaves were treated. He never really finds out who his father is, but knows he could have been the master, regardless Douglass knows no matter whom his father is, he would still be a slave. Douglass also carves the vivid picture of dehumanization into the reader's minds when he writes about the whippings slaves endure. When Douglass is a young boy, he witnesses for the first time a slave getting whipped, "he took her into the kitchen, and stripped her from neck to waist, leaving her neck, shoulders, and back entirely naked. He made her get upon the stool, and tied her hands to the hook." Douglass hides in a closet, thinking that he would be the next victim. This is Douglass's first encounter with the extreme cruelty of slaveholders. "She now stood fair for his infernal purpose...after soon rolling up his sleeves, he commenced to lay on the heavy cowskin, and soon the warm, red blood (amid heart-rending shrieks from her, and horrid oaths from him) came dripping to the floor" (Douglass 42). As it turns out, the slave
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