Summary : ' The Life Of Frederick Douglass '

Decent Essays
Kendall Short
Dr. Andrew
Engl 367

Sophia Auld

When most people think about evils of slavery, they tend to only think about the wrongful treatment of the African American, and understandably so. However, in Douglass’ narrative, The Life of Frederick Douglass, he explains that there are other victims of slavery, apart from the slave, that often go undiscussed. Sophia Auld is an example of how the institution of slavery is as injurious to whites as it is to blacks because it adversely affects the moral health of slaveholders.
When Douglass and Sophia Auld first met, he was “utterly astonished” by her compassion. Originally being a weaver and not owning any slaves, Mrs. Auld had been “preserved from the blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery”. At first, she was very uncomfortable viewing slaves as lesser people instead of how she thought another human ought to be treated. Douglass even describes Mrs. Auld as having a “heavenly smile” and “voice of tranquil music” that put even the worst of slaves at ease when in her presence.
When Sophia learns that Douglass does not know how to read and write, she kindly teaches him the alphabet and some small words. When her husband finds out that she has taught Douglass that ABC’s he is furious and forbade her from doing so further. Mr. Auld says “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell” and explains to Mrs. Auld that it is dangerous and unlawful to teach a slave to read because it would “forever unfit him to be a slave”
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