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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Transcript of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
A Look at the Difficult Life of a Slave
A Look at the Difficult Life of a Modern Day Teenager
The Impact of Frederick Douglass' Story on Us
After reading this book, we were extremely impacted by the life which Frederick Douglass had to endure.
"I suffered more anxiety than most of my fellow slaves. I had known what it was like to be kindly treated; they had known nothing of the kind. They had seen little or nothing of the world. They were in very deed men and women of sorrow, and acquainted with grief. Their backs had been made familiar with the bloody lash, so that they had become callous; mine was yet tender.." (Douglass 58).
He not only endured physical pain himself, but he also was forced to experience the horrific sights of his fellow slaves being tortured.
Frederick Douglass lived a difficult life; however, what may seem difficult to us now a days has a completely different meaning as to what was difficult to Frederick.
A child being separated from his mother
Being chained up knowing you have no life ahead of you
Working day and night with no pay
Living in constant fear
Cleaning a Bedroom
How Did Slavery Impact Men, Women, Children, Black, and White?
More fearful of their owners; many were sexually harassed
Separated from their children and left with no family
Many were forced to sell their children as slaves
Were expected to be able to work twice as hard as women
Had to endure long hours of work each and every day
Many were taken away from their wives and children to work for other owners
Separated from their mothers at a very young age
Did not understand most of what was going on
Forced to watch and witness horrific beatings of slaves from their masters
Many slave owners evolved to become mean, insensible people
Whites who were abolitionists dedicated their whole lives to ending slavery
Whites now a days can be considered racist even by the smallest, meaningless actions
Slavery imprinted a specific stereotype on blacks
There are still some forms of racism today as a result of slavery
Many felt/ feel inferior to white people
"He was cruel enough to inflict the severest punishment, artful enough to be insensible to the voice of a reproving conscience" (Douglass 37).
"I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night" (Douglass 20).
"...I received the tidings of her death with much of the same emotions I probably should have felt at the death of a stranger" (Douglass 21).
How and Why is Education So Important That it is Forbidden to Slaves?
The Constitution and Declaration
These documents state that all men are created equal. The Constitution actually was written to be opposed to slavery. Whites and slave owners felt that if slaves were able to read these documents, they would ask for their rights.
The more educated you are, the smarter you become.
Basic education would have allowed slaves to become wiser and would enable them to find ways to rebel against their owners and also ways to escape. This is exactly what the slave owners did not want to happen. They felt that education would secure slaves greater knowledge, thus, opening them up to the world.
Slave owners felt that lack of education and knowledge enabled oppression.
What is Left Unsaid and Why is This Important?
Frederick Douglass fails to explain how he escaped slavery.
Although he fails to explain this, he offers reasons in his narrative as to why he chooses not to share this piece of information with us...
He did not want to give slaveholders information that would help them prevent other slaves from escaping.
"Secondly, such a statement would most undoubtedly induce greater vigilance on the part of slaveholders than has existed heretofore among them; which would, of course, be the means of guarding a door whereby some dear brother bondman might escape his galling chains" (Douglass 103).
Frederick felt that if the slaveholders never figured out how slaves had escaped, they would suffer in their ignorance...
"I would keep the merciless slaveholder profoundly ignorant of the means of flight adopted by the slave. I would leave him to imagine himself surrounded by myriads of invisible tormentors, ever ready to snatch from his infernal grasp his trembling pray" (Douglass 104).
This is important because it ties into what we believe is the theme of Douglass' narrative...
The theme of Douglass' narrative is centered around the fact of how lack of education strips people of their ability to control.
Douglass' goal was to make slaveholders experience the same paranoia and ignorance that would be comparable to what the slaves had felt by not giving them the information to how slaves were escaping.