An Analysis of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick
An Analysis of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas In the autobiography Frederick Douglass presents a clear picture to me of a horrifying period of American history that far too few people understand. Douglass’s personal narrative as a slave lets you feel the fear of his past and allows us to experience the suffering and pain inflicted by underserved beatings and an unhealthy lifestyle with too much physical exertion.
Douglass expresses very personal feelings about his history and helps us to understand the intense hatred and disgust the American slave had for his possessor, and the sickness of hate that allowed human beings to keep other human being as slaves. The typical American slave standard of living was worse than some of the most poverty stricken countries of today. Most slaves were not as privileged to be classified as “fat and happy.
Slave “owners,” often referred to as “masters,” simply did not have to provide adequate food and clothing because there was no enforcement of it by law or any other authority regulator. In general, consideration and generosity for slaves were at the discretion of their beholders. Within these tragic lifestyles, ties between biological family members within the slave community were very rare. Most slave children new little, if anything, about there parents.
Although Douglass too had been separated from his mother he knew of her whereabouts and was able to make contact with her prior to her death relatively early in his adolescence.
We see that Douglass’ persistence to keep his first name shows us he still values his heritage and family. Education was another matter that Douglass deeply valued. Douglass makes it very clear that education was “the pathway from slavery to freedom. ” (p. 49) Douglass had learned this as a boy from one of his masters.
Little did his master know of the significant information he had implanted into the mind of such an ambitious and courageous young man. In the South, slave education was forbidden and in some cases punishable by death. Slaveholders believed that if they educated the slaves there was a strong possibility they might run away. This was quite the main perception to their teachings to their slaves as being incapable of learning, fear kept the slaveholders from educating their slaves about the truth they consciously new. Douglass became convinced that the only way men can be enslaved is by remaining ignorant.
This idea would pave the pathway to one of the greatest slave escapes of all time.
The violence slaves endured was the most vivid representation in Douglass’ portrayal of slavery in the South. No emotion or rage was held back by slaveholders and no pity or sympathy was put forth either. Cruelty and abuse were the only means of control the slaveholders believed would keep order. The pain inflicted upon these individuals, even to the point of death in some cases, fueled the typical master’s obsession with domination and power.
However, throughout Douglass’s turmoil, his religious faith remained exceptionally strong. At times he found himself questioning how might his God allow him to endure such grueling circumstances, but he never let his curiosity hinder his faith.
He also questioned how a man could call himself a Christian and yet treat another human being in such a humane manner. Douglass could never comprehend how the slaveholders were able to justify slavery through their faith and church as some of his “owners” did.
Frederick Douglass’ narrative proved to be quite the learning experience for me. I was blind and couldn’t believe how malicious and gruesome conditions slaves had to endure during this unforgettable time in our history. Some of the intense and graphic accounts that Douglass describes in his life story were all too realistic in contrary to the typical facts and statistics one is usually accustomed to learning in a traditional textbook. Douglass’ narrative of his life could definitely correspond with today’s society.
Even today slavery and civil right movements are a main concern and cause controversy in our communities and towns across the nation. Because still today some Americans with black heritages still experience racial discrimination and hate crimes for the color of their skin. Even though slavery is now abolished and illegal in the United States, we still see how our country has not completely moved on from its past. There is still a tie between slavery and racial discrimination that affects individuals, societies, politics, and our country as a whole. The question is will it ever end?