The Slave Narratives Of Frederick Douglass And Harriet Jacobs

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The institution of slavery is heinous and extremely destructive to all parties involved. The slave suffers the indignities of being owned by another human being while the slaveholder succumbs to the cruel mechanisms that grant him power over another human being. Someone once said that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and such corruption is clearly demonstrated in the slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. Though Douglass was mistreated and constantly denied the literacy he so desperately sought, Jacobs faced a variety of humiliations which were exclusively feminine. In an extraordinarily oppressive effort to subjugate slaves, slaveowners did not keep a written record of slaves’ birthdays. Lack of this vital record completely robs slaves of their identity and importance in the world. White children were well informed of their birthdays and therefore had a sense of time and place in the world. As a result of keeping slaves in the dark, the white slaveowners were able to gain power over slaves from birth onward. Demonstrating another act of sadistic power exerted over slaves, Douglass is separated from his mother as an infant and only sees her four or five times in his life before she dies. Slave children were often separated from their mothers at a very young age, to be sold off to owners over great distances. This horrendous act renders it impossible for new mothers to bond with their babies. Douglass is not even allowed
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