Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

In Douglass's narrative, could you describe the slave mistresses, please?

mastery of white women

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Sahar- I have seen many of your questions, but I am admittedly not very familiar with this narrative (I haven't read it since high school, a very long time ago). From memory, I know that Mrs. Auld was a very king mistress at the first. She took an interest in her slaves, taught them their letters, and because of that incurred the anger of her husband. In fact, Mr. Auld's upbraiding of his wife that learning to read would make their slaves unfit for their purpose (slavery), is the reason that Frederick understands the difference this skill would make in his life.

Mrs. Auld is also the "poster woman" for the dehumanizing effects of slavery upon owners. Through the text we come to understand that this woman, who was once kind and generous was changed after becoming the "mistress." True, her transformation was partially due to the influence of her husband, but none-the-less, her disposition changed completely........... cruelty replaced a smile.


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself

There are few female figures in the autobiography. The white women depicted were the wives of slaveholders, immured to cruelty and capriciousness. The black women were slaves (except for the minor examples of Douglass's wife and Sandy Jenkins's wife) and often bore the brunt of a master's hatred and brutality. One woman, Caroline, was pimped out by Mr. Covey, forced to bear the children of a male slave. Douglass's own mother was forced to have sex with a white man, thus begetting Douglass. Other women experienced the most savage beatings. Henny, a young woman who was maimed by burns, was specifically targeted by Thomas Auld. He whipped her multiple times a day. Aunt Hester was the favored victim of choice for Captain Anthony, no doubt because he was sexually attracted to her. He beat her mercilessly and humiliated her. Douglass recounts another tale of a white mistress so heavily beating a young slave girl that the girl died. Slavery took its toll on all of its participants, but women took a larger part of the abuse due to the fact that their bodily strength was less and slaveholders perceived them as weaker.