Imagine not knowing your birthday and working so hard everyday, with the possibility of being beaten lingering. Well that is how Frederick Douglass lived and how slavery was. His book shows how his life is slavery was against slavery are very well seen through the chapters of his story.
In the very first chapter of his story he makes a very big point about slavery. Slave owners keep slaves ignorant about how old they are and there birthdays, this was in order to take away there identities. If they took away there identities then they were not seen as equal humans. Douglass made this fact in the beginning just seem like it was normal and it was not a big deal, but this was because thats how he grew up. Douglass is also very bitter due to the fact that his father was probably a white man. Douglass felt abandoned into a world of slavery.
Douglass also points out the fact that not only was there master-slave divisions in society, but also a hierarchy in the slave-owning class. With the hierarchy, it made even more tensions with slave owners and how they treated there slaves. If a slave owner wanted to start moving up in the hierarchy then they would buy more slaves and treat them more cruelly, so that they were seen as a more powerful person. The richer slave owners had more slaves and were able to rent out there slaves to other plantations, so they were looked at as being the more powerful slave owners. Also with the hierarchy, plantations in the South were seen as more productive and had a better standing in markets. So southern slave owners had higher standing then say the slave owners from the east central area. Do to the hierarchy slaves were led to believe in a false system of values, where certain tasks were considered more prestigious than others; however, all tasks performed by slaves should have been considered unacceptable. Douglass points out; northerners did not have a clear understanding of what plantation life was like for slaves. They thought the singing on plantations was a sign of happiness and not of misery and pain. The singing of slaves was to lift the spirits and make them able to go through another day of pain. Many people who had never seen a plantation did not know the harsh conditions the slave owners put them under. During the part in Douglasss novel where he lives at Colonel Lloydss plantation, is where we really start to see Douglasss abolitionist views. Douglass criticizes the plantation because, it was seen as one of the best but, it would not have been seen that way if it were not for the slaves. Even though slaves kept up the plantation, they were not allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor. He also explains how slave owners would lay traps and watch the slaves just waiting for them to break the rules.
Repeatedly Douglass tells us of the slave owners value system. Not only did owners treat slaves like animals, but they usually value animals more than their slaves. So this fact constantly bothers Douglass. Douglass said that such a system which prized animals over humans was heinous. He also illustrates that slave owners ruled by example, they would kill another slave just to show the others what not to do. To Douglass this meant innocent lives were being killed just for the slave owners own gain.
At this point in the novel Douglas has just presented us with increasingly horrific facts about slavery, but he has just been seen as a narrator and has not really been very attached to the actions. This is on purpose. He has wanted to turn the reader to the Abolitionist side of things and I found that it worked. His examples lead you to seeing the horrible acts and not really to look at the other thing.
Douglass has now gone to Baltimore and has had a revelation. He has met someone who is not has harsh and mean. He no longer has to be afraid. After the white women made Douglass feel safe, the white womens husband told her that she should not be treating a slave like she was. This was due to the fact that her husband and her could lose there property, it totally changed her attitude and she turned against Douglas. Douglas explains this to us to show how slavery was very dominate to everyone and turned innocent people into feeling slavery as being acceptable. He now has a clear view of how slavery has taken over the thought of everyone. During this turning point he makes us see that slavery was bad on moral, legal, religious, and economic grounds. Douglass wants us to se that even though some areas were better then others, it was still unacceptable. His major point was that wherever there was slavery, there was a mistreated slave as well.
Douglass decides that he was to learn to read and write, but this is one thing that whites do not want slaves knowing how to do. This is due to the fact that then they might figure out how the whites are controlling them. Douglass did figure it out and realized that the power of whites was just a mental domination and was not a physical control. As long as the whites could keep slaves ignorant then whites had power over them. This is how Douglass shows that slavery was nothing more then the whites keeping blacks ignorant and taking control of there ignorance.
All through the book Douglass advocates that slavery was a very cruel institution. It not only hurt the blacks but, the whites as well. Slavery turned the white masters into heartless beast that did not care about the condition of anyone. That is why Douglass wrote his story so everyone could see the horrible conditions that slavery had on everyone. No human being should ever be treated like an animal or treated less than everyone else. Having an autobiography gives Frederick Douglasss arguments a higher standing then anyone elses. His narrative is a great portrayal of the horrific institutions of slavery. These are the arguments that were made against slavery by Frederick Douglass and read by many Americans.
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