“Whilst I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was gladdened by the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had gained from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read. The very decided manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the best assurance that I might rely with the utmost confidence on the results which, he said, would flow from teaching me to read.” (Douglass, 29-30).
One of the most well-known slavery narratives was lived and written by Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was a civil rights activist who was born into slavery on a plantation in eastern Maryland in February 1818. His exact birth date is unknown, he states in his narrative, “I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.”2 His birth name was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, which was given by his mother Harriet Bailey, who died when he was about 10 years old. At a young age, Douglass was picked to live in the home of a plantation owner Captain Anthony, whom some believe may have been his father. In his narrative that was published in 1845, sixteen years before the Civil War began, Douglass describes his life as a slave and his aspiration to become a free man. He describes the painful struggle to break free from the physical and mental bondage of slavery. Frederick Douglass resisted slavery by withstanding along with defying his owners. He prepared himself for life as a free man by self-improving himself through the use of education. Douglass’s experience reveals about the difficulties enslaved people would face, when and if they were granted their freedom, was that if they were not educated they were not totally “free.”
In Frederick Douglass 's first autobiography, "Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass”, he provides a graphic portrayal of his childhood and disturbing experiences as a slave as well as his eventual escape to freedom. Douglass went through physical abuse, starvation, and mental fatigue during his youth, yet through unimaginable circumstances he was able to overcome everything and become a writer, newspaper editor, and most of all one of the most influential abolitionist. In telling his story, Douglass paints a realistic picture of slavery. Douglass 's narrative spells out the slaveholders ' tactics in simple terms while highlighting the moral inefficiencies and the damaging effects of slavery on both the slave and the slaveholder
One of the key arguments in “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” as well as in other narratives about slaves is inequality. Douglass attempts to show us how African American slaves were still human beings like their white counterparts, there have been numerous instances where it is shown that many whites did not want to accept slaves as true humans. Frederick
Picture this going through life without the ability to read or write. Without these abilities, it is impossible for a person to be a functioning member of society. In addition, imagine that someone is purposely limiting your knowledge to keep a leash on your independence. Not only is an American slave raised without skills in literacy, he cannot be taught to read unless someone breaks the law. In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the reader is given a detailed explanation of why slave masters keep their slaves ignorant and the effects such a strategy has on the slaves’ lives. In his autobiography, Douglass describes how the knowledge he obtains has substantial positive and negative effects on his psyche. He is given renewed passion and hope for freedom while struggling with the burden of enlightenment of his situation. Ultimately, however, education shapes his fate, and he achieves freedom and prominence as an advocate for abolition.
Throughout Douglass's autobiography, he described what slavery does to white people. The stories he told are true yet so inconceivable that many readers were shocked how
Another prominent similarity in the works of Equiano and Douglass is the belief that separation from family is the worst consequence of slavery. Slaves experienced countless hardships, and unfortunately many were unable to go through them with their relatives. Equiano describes his experience of being separated from his family in Chapter II of his story. According to his account, “The next day proved a day of greater sorrow than I had yet experienced; for my sister and I were then separated, while we lay clasped in each other’s arms (29). Earlier, the Equiano siblings had been separated from their parents, which was overwhelming. However, separation from his sister left Olaudah in tears. Frederick Douglass experienced separation from his mother at a young age. He questions, “For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the . . . child. This is the inevitable result” (13). Douglass never met his mother as a result of the whites taking him away from her. Although slaves would probably work efficiently when accompanied by their family, the masters did not realize this, and consequently disconnected families. These eminent similarities in the works of Douglass and Equiano effectively portray the wicked
The theme of individual versus society has been featured in many pieces of literature over time. This conflict can be described as an individual’s struggle against the confines of their culture or society. The individual wrestles with either upholding society’s rules or breaking them. The conflict of the individual versus society is included in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. In his memoir, Douglass, who was a slave at the time, learned how to read and write. This was deviant from society in that period because slaves were not allowed to read and write. This conflict also appears in real life situations, such as the women’s suffrage movement or the Civil Rights Movement. Members of these movements did things that deviated from societal norms at the time. The theme of the individual versus society is presented as an individual deviating from society’s ideals.
“Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result.” This is done so the mother can get right to work on the field while women who are too old to do such labor are taking care of the kids and household. A child is taken away before the age of 1 for the fact that they are so young so they can’t remember or feel any attachment to their mother just yet. The slave owners also made sure when they took the child they would sell them off to a farther farm from which the mother would be working. For the reason to make sure the mother wouldn’t be able to easily see the child and try to corrupt anything that they are trying to play in them. This process is unavoidable like Frederick says, this prevents any connection with emotions between the slaves. The end result can be
While Slavery was against human nature and while Abolitionists believed in ending the practice of slavery, the South had their own reasons why slavery was needed in America and how basically they supported pro slavery. For instance, some arguments for slavery followed this so-called logic: “Sudden end to the slave economy would have had a profound and killing economic impact in the South where reliance on slave labor was the foundation of their economy. If all the slaves were freed, there would be widespread unemployment and chaos. And by comparison with the poor of Europe and the workers in the Northern states, that slaves were better cared for” (ushistory.org). But in a section from, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, written by him, Douglass describes some of the brutality that he had witnessed. “The overseer’s name was Plummer. Mr. Plummer was a miserable drunkard, a profane swearer, and a savage monster. He always went armed with a cowskin and a heavy cudgel. I have known him to cut and slash the woman’s heads so horribly, that even master would be enraged at his cruelty, and would threaten to whip him if he did not mind himself. Master, however, was not a humane slaveholder” (Douglass 44). This shows the brutality that even female slaves endured and while the Maser may have showed some sense against the cruelty that the slaves faced, it wasn’t enough to say that they too were also cruel. Just putting aside the inhumanity depicted in true
The connection between a mother’s death and the death of a stranger evokes an understanding from the reader that Douglass was allowed very different values of family than many people today. Although Douglass was separated from the family closest to him, there was a small period in which he was separated from viewing the cruel violence surrounding him. Douglass lived with his grandmother when he was young, her filling in the role of the “old woman” that young children were placed with, as quoted above. He mentions that he had been “out of the way of the bloody scenes that often occurred on the plantation” until he witessed a master beating his aunt (13). Slaves in the 1930s during the Great Depression were interviewed by the Federal Writers’ Project, and many had very strong opinions about their families being separated. John W. Fields, a slave in Kentucky, described the process of drawing names from a hat to determine his new master, saying, “I can’t describe the heartbreak and horror of that separation. I was only six years old…”. Another slave of Kentucky, John Rudd, describes his view on selling family by, “If’n you wants to know what unhappiness means… jess’n you stand on the Slave Block and hear the
Identity is one of the most powerful things that we have in our blood. We can have royal blood, white blood, black blood or indigenous blood. What does it matter? We all are human beings. The question is why are we still fighting about slavery, racism or discriminating about someone else’s status? Frederick Douglass shows us how white slaveholders perpetuated slavery by keeping their slaves ignorant. He wrote that they believed that blacks were inherently incapable of participating in civil society and thus should be kept as workers for white people. Although reading about Frederick Douglass helped me to understand the conflict we now face, it makes me sick living in this world we have created.
slaves uninformed. At the time Douglass was writing, many people thought that slavery was a
Patrick Henry once said, “give me liberty, or give me death.” In the eyes of Frederick Douglass and countless others enslaved, this took on a much deeper meaning to them. “It was doubtful liberty at most, and almost certain death is we failed.”  Frederick Douglass was one of the most commonly known slaves to have existed. Slavery has been around since the 1700s, but the subject of slavery is controversial because it not only includes information written from former slaves, but information acquired from historians. The question that has with stood the test of time is, “are these encounters that have been written out, exaggerated or the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” In the early 1800’s Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland, and grew up on Colonial Edward Lloyd’s plantation. Children would be separated from their mothers before they were twelve months in age-Frederick too was separated from his mother. As a result of entering slave-hood at an early age, he did not know his birthdate (like most slaves). Frederick Douglass’s account on slavery could be seen as biased as a result of first hand experiences with being held as a slave. Although, Douglass is able to be direct our thoughts to these experiences in such a light, you feel as if you are witnessing it happen right before you. Because of Douglass’s quest for freedom, his daring attitude, and determination to learn, he shows us the way through American Slavery in his eyes. Douglass provides
There was a custom in Maryland to separate the children from their mother’s birth. The mothers and babies were never allowed to bond because it was more important for the mother to be in the field than to rear their own child. These children were placed with women