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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas - Literary Report

8 pages
2057 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Type of Relationship Douglas Had With His Mother

Douglas starts his life narrative by noting his birthplace as Tuckahoe, situated near Hillsborough not many miles from Talbot County, Maryland. Unfortunately, he does not know his exact age since there were no proper records that were kept during his birth. This alludes to grueling moment he has experienced because slaves were not allowed to get information of their lives. This issue bothered Douglas immensely. His mother Harriet bailey was a dark skinned, daughter of Isaac. His father is a dream to him, the only information he know concerning the father was that he was a white (Douglass, 2000). Douglass relationship with his mother is presented in the narrative as brief, which was characterized by total lack of emotion on his part because of the infrequent visits his mother could make to see him. He would be allowed to see her only if the mother steals away to see him at night and the visits were rare apart from the m being done mostly done during the night before she would travel his enslaved pace. The two would rarely speak, his mother died when he was seven but the relationship was so weakened that he did not feel much more than he would have as if a stranger died. A slave child typically follows the condition of their mothers. This is a fact that Douglas noted when he bore the slave owners pernicious lustful designs upon the slave women. Children born from the slave , others and white fathers-mulattos- as they were referred experienced difficulties than did the other children in the presence slave owners wife since they are constant reminder to the wife of the husbands infidelity (Douglass, 2000). The owners of the slaves thought it was best to deny mother-child relationship because the mothers would teach the children of their background against the wish of their masters.

Reasons Why Slaves Would Sing

Utterly astonished, Douglas accepts that the conditions at the northern plantations were very pathetic. If the slaves broke plantation rules, or tried to run away, they would were exposed to harsh treatment, whipped and shipped away to Baltimore and sold to traders as a warning to others. These conditions were coupled with meager food and clothing that was give to the slave children. It is unheard of to find singing in a vulnerable population to be a source of joy, but slaves sing most when they are most unhappy (Douglass, 2000). Their songs are a representation of sorrowful experience they were undergoing in the southern plantation. When a slave was sent to the great house farm, they would travel through the thicket forest, singing at5 the top of their lungs. However, the songs were spontaneous, moving, and passionate. At times, they would sing songs with pathetic sentiments within the most pathe3tic tone. Douglas be3lieved that these songs would do more in imparting terror of the slavery than reading a volume of philosophy about slavery. In his narrative, Douglas wrote on the haunting melodies of the slaves as they were traversing the forests and working in the fields. He rebuffed the persistent notion among the slave owners and the entire southern part of the territory that saves did not sing to express their happiness and contentment, but rather they sung to express mournful utterances to the deepest anguish of their souls (Douglass, 2000). Douglas asserted that he did not understand the meaning of such songs initially but when he grew up, he begun to detect the tale and woe as well as the dehumanizing characters of slavery. It is therefore important to point out that the southern system was one of the wicked in as far as punishing the slaves was concerned. Many of them were beaten mercilessly and were made to work in the plantation from early morning to late in the dusk.

Mr. Austin Gore and the Type of a Man He Was

Mr. Austin gore was the man who replaced Mr. Hopkins. He had all the qualities of being a first-rate overseer. However, he is a sadist and prideful man with tendency of twisting an action into a punishable act of impudence. He was one person who would not hesitate to punish a slave who committed mistake. Mr. Gore shot and killed a slave by the name Demby because he did not listen to warnings. When the case was presented to the court of law, Mr. Gore defended himself with argument that if the slaves were not punished for disobedience, then that will mean the end of slavery. His argument won the heart of the masters and created a reputation for hi as his quality as a tough overseer spread everywhere (Douglass, 2000). In regards to Douglass assertions, Gore lives by the maxims notion the it is better for dozens of slaves to suffer under the lash than the overseer as him does does, to be convicted in the presence of the slaves. Gore kills Dembi merely because he refused to come out upon which he draw his gun and shoot him. Douglas debunks that killing a black person whether free or slave is treated not as a crime in Talbot, Maryland. He recalls numerous brutal murders of slaves, which goes unpunished. The southern system does not uphold the dignity of a slave and there is no practice of dignity to human life especially the slave. It is easier to kill a slave and account feebly justifying the act and all matters swept. Douglas enumerate some of the sheer killings that he witnessed, Thomas Lanman shoot two slaves and latter boosted of his actions, Mrs. Giles Hicks beat on teenager slave to death. Thus, death was a fancy that the white children were mumbling anytime how worth it is to kill a slave.

How Douglas Learnt How to Read and Write

Douglas was bout twelve years old when he was taken to live at Master Hugh. This was a formative year of a child where they are yearning to learn. Hughs wife started treating him well and instructed him on how to read and write. She started by teaching him the alphabets. When this came to the realization of Auld, he disapproves of the tutoring with a feeling that literacy would soon encourage the slaves to desire for freedom. Douglas referred to this as first decidedly antislavery lecture. Sophia concur with her husband that education and slavery are incompatible and snatched a newspaper from Douglas one day (Douglass, 2000). Latter after the crumbling of the tutorials, Douglas reminisces learning how to read and write from white children in the neighborhood and occasionally by observing the writings of men of whom he worked with. He continued to teach himself secretly how to read and write by reading newspapers, pamphlets, books, and political materials of every description. By gaining the power to write and read, he was pose to the realms of thought that lead him to condemn and question the moral of slavery. After the acquisition of the little knowledge, Douglas accredited the Columbian orator an anthology that he discovered when he was about age twelve. He clarified and defined his views on human right and freedom (Douglass, 2000). The book was published in 1797, and it was a class reader that contained essays, dialogues, and speeches to help students in learning to read. After learning from the white little boys on how to write, he would find a book and take it with him wherever he would be; soon Douglas started to read the Columbian orator. This book taught him many issues concerning emancipation, which tremendously transformed his life.

Comparison of Slavery in the Plantation and in Baltimore

One of the most significant occurrences on the life of Douglas was being among the slaves children that were chosen to go to Baltimore. In Baltimore, he resided with Hugh Auld who was the brother in law of Lucretias husband Thomas. He felt a sense of purpose and got the freedom he had never known. In Baltimore, he resided just next to Fells point, which was an enclave outside Baltimore. This was a heavy populated area whose inhabitants worked in building the ship and other maritime vessels. It is at Baltimore that Douglass religious views concretized and were expressed for the first time (Douglass, 2000). He had a belief that someday he would escape the bondage of slavery. He learned to read and meet a wide variety of people who helped him on his road to freedom. In the city, he enjoyed a relatively freer life since the city slave owners are seemed to be more conscious appearing to neglect cruelty towards their slaves. It is apparent that Sophia has never had any slave before and is kind to Douglas at first. In general, the life at Baltimore is better compared to plantation where the masters are so cruel to slaves and do not hesitate to shoot some of them to serve as example to the rest of the slaves. As assign of a relative free life, Douglas escapes at the third attempt unlike the plantation where surveillance is fortified. He lived a life a life in Baltimore, which elicited all the changes and transformation in his life. It is evident that slaves are better treated as oppose to the country where they are whipped brutally and are starved with scanty clothing. In the city, the slave owners would be a shamed that at the glaring eyes of their neighbors, they are mistreating the slaves.

Reasons Why Death of Captain Anthony Caused Douglas Excitement and Anxiety

The death of Master Anthony presents a frightening and perilous time for Douglas. Customarily, when the owner of a property died, married, or changed the family ties, their properties often changed hands. Slaves in particular were the central of the property and they feared being sold to a crueler master particularly those from Georgia where conditions were much worse. When the captain died, Douglas was sent back to the plantation for a valuation. This was to ensure that all the captains property be appraised and then divided among his heirs. This time presented a lot of chilling period for Douglas because he was not aware of his future, for it was possible that he be sold to Georgia probably to a crueler Master (Douglass, 2000). Finally, Douglas was awarded to Lucretia meaning that he had to be returned to her relatives The Aulds back in Baltimore. This turn of events reminisces a fortune for Douglas once again because his life in the city was not interrupted. During their stay, Andrew exhibited a lot of cruelty, which was meted by Douglas rebellion. Soon after the return to Baltimore, both Andrew and Luctreta died and once again, all the slaves were slated to be sold off or given away. On the other hand, Douglas was excited as he witnessed his persecutors perishing one after the other (Douglass, 2000). He remembered with vivid how thy slaves whipped and brutally murdered at the watchful eyes on Anthony. One of the most unfortunate things that Douglas feared fro was the breakup of the ties that had existed between themselves- the slaves- when they were to be divided among the relatives of Captain Anthony.

Edward Covey and His Confrontation with Douglas

Douglas is leased to Edward covey. He lives the house of Master Thomas to work as a filed hand man for Covey. However, the type of life he lived in the city makes him unfit for the labor in the field. Before long, covey sends Douglas with oxen and a damaged cart to the field to collect woods within the forest despite the fact that he does not know how to manage the irate oxen and he escapes injury by a whisk. Nonetheless, he becomes stranded in the forest with the oxen alone. When he reported the occurrence to covey, he is whipped. In fact during his first six months with covey, Douglas is whipped once a week (Douglass, 2000). Covey used to work his slaves without any thought of leaving them to rest. He would work them in the field early in the dawn with enough food but less time to eat. Covey was a strict man, to ensure that the slaves were productive; he would also labor alongside them. One fateful day while fanning wheat, Douglas collapse due to heat and exhaustion; ins...

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