Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

An Analysis of the Different Forms of Freedom and Bondage Presented in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave brings to light many of the injustices that African-Americans faced in the 1800s under Southern slavery. The story of Douglass's life is presented in a way that makes a compelling argument against the institution of slavery, reinforced by anecdotes detailing graphic beatings and inhumane cruelty on the part of the slaveholders. However, Douglass's most compelling argument does not simply display the physical burdens of slavery, but also speaks to the toll it takes on both slave and slaveholder. The underlying theme of the story is that slavery corrupts the minds of slaveholders and weakens slaves' intellects.

In order to justify keeping an entire race of people enslaved, slaveholders had to claim that blacks were inferior - on the same level as animals. Consequently, they paid no regard to the sanctity of black families. They treated the slaves as if their familial bonds were completely worthless - something they would never have imagined doing to another white person. This is illustrated by Douglass's own relationship to his mother, from whom he was separated in his infancy, "Very little communication ever took place...

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