How Douglass Dispelled the Illusions of Slavery

1019 WordsJul 7, 20185 Pages
Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography to provide a look into the world of a slave. His audience varied, from abolitionists, to whites that were on the fence about the issue, but his purpose remained: to allow non-slaves to learn about the horrors of slavery. In this autobiography, Douglass dispelled readers’ “illusions about slavery” by merely telling his true story, an everyman tale for slaves. Douglass worked on plantations in the Maryland area, and those plantations were considered to be easier than those of Georgia or Alabama, as unruly or ornery slaves were “sold to a Georgia [slave] trader” as punishment (54). Douglass may very well have been one of the better-treated slaves of his era, and in revealing the horrors of his…show more content…
Ridden of the ignorance that once provided him relative bliss, Douglass realized the horror of his circumstances and delved to another level of despair. While McDuffie believed the slaves were allowed to “eat as much wholesome” food as they wanted, in reality, slaves received food as if they were unwanted animals, fed “coarse corn meal” from a “trough” (McDuffie, P5; Douglass, 59). Corn meal served from a trough does not constitute wholesome food. In his speech when he proclaimed slavery to be a “positive good,” John C. Calhoun also argued that the “black race of Central Africa” had never attained a lifestyle “so civilized and so improved” (Slavery a Positive Good, Calhoun, P1). Douglass countered this argument with narrations of the dehumanization that slaves went through. Douglass described his Aunt Hester’s whipping, when her master whipped her until “red blood came dripping on the floor,” punishing her as if she were a misbehaving animal. Douglass revealed that while whites argued that the slaves had become more civilized, at the same time they dehumanized them with animal-like punishment. Another illusion that Douglass countered in his narrative was the idea that slavery was justified because of certain passages from the Bible. McDuffie defended slavery because “domestic slavery” existed with the

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