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African American Slavery In America Portrayed In The Aren´T I A Woman And The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglas

1678 words - 7 pages

The lives of the African slave in America were extremely difficult, and really only had a few things that some would consider a part of a normal life. Many faced hardships such as severe physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. The life of a slave was short and many even wished it to be shorter. White’s Ar’n’t I a Woman and Douglass’ The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass detail the lives of many different slaves and help give perspective to some of the darkest years in American history. The books use two different styles to convey a similar story of despair in which supposedly loving Christians dehumanized and tortured their own human brothers.
Slavery was run by the greed of the large plantation owners of the South. The overwhelming desire to continually gain wealth led slave owners to forger their wholesome Christian values, and take up habits that could only bolster their profits regardless of the harm it brought to slaves. Most of these habits were to break or dehumanize slaves. One common practice was to not allow slaves to know their ages. This was a way to make black children feel inferior to white children; kids can be petty, letting the smallest things become something that constantly afflicts them. Some owners, or their overseers, were extremely cruel. Some would take enjoyment in the total mistreatment of slaves. Douglass’ first Master Captain Anthony and his overseer, Mr. Plummer would never hesitate to use a whip or club on a slave. Douglas even struggles to describe the violence of the whipping of Aunt Hester. An even more gruesome example of violence two chapters later involved a slave who refused to get out of a creek after being whipped. After he refused to listen to the overseer, Mr. Gore, shot the slave on sight. Both of these examples help to explain the fear at which slaves constantly lived under. Men and women alike were both subject to the cruel punishments of their masters, but men and women played different but significant roles in the southern economy.
Childhood for men and women were virtually the same. Both Douglass and White say that children were unfit for work in the field and spent most of their time working inside doing simple chores or possibly taking care of babies. It wasn’t until teen years that they understood what it really meant to be a slave. Reaching thirteen brought many things to the young slaves. First they were given their new clothes: pants and a shirt for the boys and a long dress for the girls. At this age they were also moved from their childhood duties and moved to much more difficult task. Young women would be put in trash gangs with pregnant, nursing, and elderly women. These trash gangs would do easier task such as light hoeing or picking cotton during the harvest. Boys were quickly put into work with other men and did the roughest work until there was nothing left of them. This was how most of the men made money for their plantation: work hours in the fields to...

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