He notes that, the slavery institution made them forget about their origin, and anything else that entails their past, and even when they were born. The slaves forgot everything about their families, and none knew about their family because, they were torn from them without any warning. Douglass explains how they went without food, clothing and even sleep because their masters were cruel to them. American slavery took advantage of black laborers as they were beaten mercilessly without committing any offense. They were not treated as human beings, but as property that could be manipulated in any way. The slavery institution was harsh for the Africans especially women who were regularly raped, and forced to bear their masters children and if they declined, they were maimed or killed.
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
Education is the key that opens all doors and Douglass knew that in his heart. His master told him that he cannot read and should never be caught reading. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world… It would forever unfit him to be a slave” (Douglass 945) It is seen here that it is imperative for a slave
Douglass not only describes slaves as animals, but he describes slave treatment as if they were animals to further describe the horrendous lives of slaves. Slaves were fed food in troughs (36). By choosing the word “trough”, Douglass emphasizes the poor treatment of slaves; slaves were not good enough to be fed from bowls or plates, they were no better than animals. Douglass also compares women on the plantations to breeding animals. Women were expected to reproduce in order to increase their masters’ wealth, not to create a family. Women and children were separated before the child was a year old so they would not form familial bonds with one another. When Douglass’ own mother died, he compared it to a stranger dying because he had no connection with her (18). Slaves were not only thought of animals, but also fostered as animals. Douglass describes Mr. Covey as a “nigger-breaker”, Douglass was broken in “body, soul, and spirit” by
First and foremost, in his book, Douglass explains how the slave system abused slaves and made them less than human. In the text, he describes how unnatural and murderous slavery was, and how it stripped slaves down of their humanity, which made them feel like animals. Since birth, slaves were separated from their families. The might have been “brothers and sister by blood”, but slavery had made them “strangers” (Douglass 39). The treatment of slaves was terrible, they were only fed corn-meal and tainted met; the only
As soon as Douglass pieces together what Mr. Auld was saying he recognizes that “What he most dreaded, that I most desired. What he most loved, that I most hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn.” (Douglass 38). This instant illustrates one of the first climaxes of the narrative. One statement made by Mr. Auld so greatly impacted Douglass by giving him a new sense of hope and will to succeed in obtaining his freedom. Douglass pulls out the positive in this experience, that Mr. Auld accidentally shared with him the power that comes with education. “In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the benefit of both” (Douglass 39). Douglass learned to read not only in thanks to his kind mistress, who willingly taught him to read, but also to his cruel master whose rage towards Douglass learning to read and write generated him to give Douglass the knowledge he wanted to keep from him to begin with. The lesson given to him by his master about education was far more important than even the lesson’s on learning to read. Douglass’s use of chiasmi takes this climax to the
Since slaves were not allowed schooling, illiteracy was very common for African Americans slaves. For many people not accustomed to slavery, it was believed that slavery was simply a state of natural being. People believed African Americans were inherently incapable of residing in their society and consequently should live as laborers for white slave owners. Enforcing illiteracy among children deprived them of their necessary morality and ethics. Southern slave owners used this to their advantage control how the remainder of the country viewed slavery. If slaves were illiterate, they were incapable of telling their side of slavery. Douglass is saying that knowledge is key to winning against slavery. His quote, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man” (Douglass) describes his transformation as a slave with little knowledge and education to a man who has become very knowledgeable and educated to beat slavery. Douglass uses knowledge as the road to his freedom. He seeks knowledge and education to help slaves voice the wrong doings slaveholders are bringing upon blacks. Douglass helps slaves discover their selves not as slaves but as men instead.
Frederick Douglass, an African American slave, searches for liberation against the shackles of slavery through education; as told in Frederick Douglass’ Narrative in a Life of Frederick Douglass. Douglass portrays education as a paradox; knowledge brings him both great joy and great pain. Learning opens up new worlds for Douglass, and he becomes obsessed with the possibility of freedom. At the same time, he envies his fellow slaves for their ignorance. They do not understand what their enslavers have stolen from them. Douglass grapples with the hopelessness of his plight, but knowledge empowers him enough to set himself free from a life of benightedness, and to share that knowledge with others.
First, Douglass explains that education and freedom are inseparable. When he is a young slave, his Mistress Hugh treats him like another person and teaches him alphabet. However, Master Hugh perceives that
In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Frederick Douglass, he tells his own personal story about what it was like to live as a slave. While living through the horrors of slavery, Douglass manages to educate himself, by teaching himself to read with the help of few. As Douglass matures, life only gets harder. However, his education brings him hope. Not only does Douglass read of abolition, giving him hope, he also learns the importance of his education. Frederick Douglass discovers that education is the key to the freedom of his people through realizing the inevitable power gap is created by ignorance.
Douglass explains the way they were treated and talked about. “ The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness” (Faigley page 384) Any mother with tender hearts would be moved by those words. He persuades people to side with him, and feel for him. He wants people to be upset by his words so that things will get changed.
Douglass explain many situations he was present in beating of other slaves. In the first few chapter Douglass on explained about his childhood to the effects cruel punishment can do to human. Douglass didn’t work in the field. Children back then weren’t allowed because they wasn’t strong enough to upload the tasks needed in the field.
When Douglass moved to Baltimore his mistress started to teach him, but she was quickly told to stop by her husband because knowledge would make Douglass “no longer fit to be a slave”. Douglass then realizes what he was just given and he says, “From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.”
An example from the book demonstrating this is when he talks about how in general slave children are taken away from their mothers and how he was taken away from his mother when he was a child. He talks about how he was taken away from his mother and how she would walk twelve miles after working in the fields to see him, risking being caught and punished by her masters, only for a little while. Douglass included this story to show how even the bond between a child and his or her mother was affected by slavery. Almost anyone can relate to the story of a mother taking care of her child but with this story, Douglass is showing that even that was defiled with the institution of slavery. One of the most heartbreaking quotes from this story is, “She died when I was about seven years old… She was gone long before I knew anything about it… I
“He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.” (Frederick Douglass 87). In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Douglass makes freedom about more than escaping from the dehumanized slaveholder. According to him, education is freedom. With knowledge, comes questioning, and with questioning brings the want of a better life and the plan on how to achieve it. Every aspect of his definition of freedom makes for a risky task of learning, considering teaching slaves was frowned upon for the reason of them possibly taking the higher authority and governing the whites.