Frederick Douglass, His Creation of a Template
In the early 1800’s, the United States’ culture of slavery was fostered for a lifespan of forcible enslavement. For all Slaves, this was the normality which was callously endured. In the book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, the author, Frederick Douglass gives readers a personal view of his life in slavery and trials he endured. However, Douglass argues that within these trials, he sees his time in slavery as a component in his prophesied fate of becoming a free man. Prior to his argument, Douglass gives readers a descriptive picture of slavery and the suffering many endured during those troubled times.
In Douglass’ narrative, he recounts his earliest memory of being a slave. At a young age, he acknowledges that it was a masters’ prerequisite to “keep their slaves thus ignorant” (25). He reports, he had no true account of his age and was groomed to believe that his age didn’t exist. Douglass quarreled within himself, questioning his lack of personal information. The use of depriving slaves to the most basic information was not at all uncommon, as slave owners promoted ignorance to control their slaves. As a child, Douglass is separated from his mother. He realizes this was done to disengage any mental, physical, and emotional bond within slave families. He illustrates the “norm” action and response of a slave to the master. To describe the typical dialogue he states, “To all these complaints, no matter how unjust, the slave must answer never a word,” and in response “a slave must stand, listen, and tremble” (38). In the course of his narrative, he describes several excruciating acts of abuse on slaves. His first memory of this exploitation had been the lashing of his Aunt Hester. Douglass recalls his first invitation to one of slavery’s horrific account, as he awoke to the sounds of shrieking from his own family member. He describes this as “the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery” (29). This was a feeling he could never put on paper. In addition, he gives accounts of owners’ self-deception tactics, injustices causing a rippling effect; shaping characteristics of prejudice, jealousy, and dishonesty within the slave community. Douglass connects to the reader by emphasizing the reality of slavery and the nature of human hierarchy. These events seen and recited in Douglass’ work, gives background to the routine causality of slavery. As a slave, to inherit this life of servitude, Douglass opposes this vision for his future.
Douglass portrays his unique experience in slavery by distinguishing his treatment from earlier masters. In the beginning of chapter five, Douglass identifies his master’s favoritism towards him when he states, “Master Daniel was of some advantage to me” and “I was seldom whipped by my old master” (46). This was in direct contrast to the treatment of other slaves including his family members. He describes his Master’s actions...