Based on the book: "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass".

Essay by AgentBoaHigh School, 11th gradeA, February 2003

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Frederick Douglass himself wrote the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. He was born into slavery in Tuckahoe, Maryland in approximately 1817. He has, " accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it" (47). Having himself been kept as a slave until he escaped from Maryland in 1838, he was able to deliver very impassioned speeches about the role of the slave holders and the slaves. Many Northerners tried to discredit his tales, but no one was ever able to disprove his statements.

Frederick Douglass does offer a biased review of slavery, as he was born into it, yet even in his bias he is able to detect and detail the differences in the slaveholders cruelty and that to which he was subjected. From being whipped and humiliated daily, "a very severe whipping... for being awkward" (101), to being able to find his own work and save some money, he is able to give the reader a more true picture of slavery.

Frederick Douglass has woven many themes into his narrative, all being tied with a common thread of man's inhumanity towards man. Children were uprooted from the arms of their mothers, and sold to other slaveholders. Brutal whippings occurred for even the smallest imagined offense, women were treated as no better than common concubines and the slaves were forced into living quarters, worse than some of the farm animals. The slaves were not allowed even the most meager portion of food to last a month. Clothes were scarce and illness was never tolerated. It was unthinkable

for the slaves to practice any type of religion, hold any gatherings, become literate to any degree, "unlawful... unsafe, to teach a slave to read" (78) or even make the simple decision of...