The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass - Baruch ENG2850 - Essay

1319 words - 6 pages

Wang 1
Zihang Wang
ENG 2850
Prof. Hazell
Topic: slavery
Say No to Slavery
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass details the hardships Frederick Douglass went through as a slave before his escape to freedom. Douglass wrote the autobiography of his life to persuade people that the abolition of slavery was necessary, and this book served as a catalyst for a fundamental change in society during the antebellum period. As a slave, Frederick Douglass witnessed the dehumanization of slavery that the only crime was to be born of the wrong color. In his narrative, Douglass offered the readers with abundant information of the pain, sufferings the slaves went through, the brutality, immorality and evil of the slave-owners, and how he fought for his future through obtaining an education by himself. Although some arguments suggest that the slavery system produced enormous wealth for the world, generated prosperous economies, and accelerated scientific and technological developments, the terrifying physical abuses, the destructive psychological damages it brought to African American people, and the lingering racial prejudice as a result of slavery far outweigh any benefits realized.
First, the life of slaves was not easy. The physical destruction caused by both living condition and slaveowners was deplorable. They were treated badly by the plantation owners: whipped, beaten, sometimes starved and even murdered. Slaves got very few clothes through the years, and these garments were especially not warm enough for winter. As Douglass described, in the winter, he was kept almost naked - “no shoes, no stockings, no jacket, no trousers, nothing on but a coarse two linen shirts, reaching only to my knees… My feet had been so cracked with the frost…” (230). According to Douglass, this entire apparel could not have cost more than seven dollars per year. However, children got even less. Since they did not work in the field, they did not get shoes, stockings, jackets or trousers. They were only given two linen shirts per year, and if these failed to last the entire year, they ran around naked. This awful description creates empathy for mistreated children whose only “crime” results from birth to mothers with black color. Furthermore, in the most dehumanizing comparison, Douglass used animal imagery to reveal the conditions in which the children were fed. Douglass wrote: “The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush; some with oyster shells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked hands, and none with spoons” (230). Essentially, the slave children were fed in the same manner as animals. These descriptions create vivid pictures of the inhumane treatment of slave children and the slave-owners made them perform the animal-like behaviors in order to survive in the cruel plantation life.
Second, slavery also caused psychological damage on slaves which will last for a lifetime, such as the brake...

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