The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass
In reading The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, I, like others, found myself to be deeply moved. The way in which Mr. Douglass walked me through each stage of his “career” as a slave gave me a better understanding of the African American slaves’ struggle. I realized in reading this mans story that he was a gifted individual and I pondered over where his strength came from? It is true and obvious that Mr. Frederick Douglass was an extremely gifted man, but with no mother or father to guide him, what motivated this man to accomplish his goal? For this man did indeed become free.
I believe that it was a combination of Douglass’s personal traits: his observation, faith in truth, assertion, self-education, and brawn that helped guide him in the right direction.
In my paper, I hope to present to you how Douglass used his personal traits to guide him and support himself in his crusade for freedom.
My first introduction to Douglass’s world of slavery was when he walked me through the scene of his Aunt’s whipping. In this scene his Aunt Hester is getting whipped for sneaking out in the middle of night. I did not want to think that a human being could treat another in such a worthless way but after reading I was convinced that one did. Douglass tells of how the man striped this his Aunt of her clothing, which alone is so humiliating, and whipped her of skin and dignity. In Frederick Douglass’s words, “He then told her to cross her hands, he tied them with a strong rope, and led her to a stool under a large hook in the joist, put in for the purpose. He made her get upon the stool, and tied her hands to he hook” (Douglass 259). Douglass remembered the hook put into the beam in the ceiling for the mere purpose of whipping his people. He remembered the cries of his Aunt for mercy. “ I remember the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition. I was quite a child, but I well remember it. I never shall forget it whilst I remember anything”(258). I wondered if I were this man, would I of wanted to remember such a disturbing episode? Douglass’s long termed memory can be considered as both a gift and a curse; for to remember such acts must be disturbing and yet to remember also never lets one forget. Douglass had witnessed some unthinkable acts of cruelty, during his life span but managed to use these negativities in a positive way.
Douglass believes in truth, he has a certain faith in it. If he were to block these memories out he would not be true to himself. “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence” (273). He uses these memories of his past, of truth, as motivation to become a free man, to escape the making of future dehumanizing memories. He believes in truth, that the truth will set him free from this pain; it will speak for itself. One example is when he read the book The...