Frederick Douglass As A Slaveholder Analysis

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Douglass begins his narrative with explaining that as a child he was unaware of how old he was and that as a slave, he was forbidden to ask. This was a major source of unhappiness for Douglass as a child, as all of the white boys around him knew their age. As this being the first thing that Douglass talks about, it is apparent that this lack of identity is going to be a big part of what Douglass focuses on. Douglass writes about how white slaveholders keep slavery alive by dehumanizing their slaves and keeping them ignorant. It also seems that ignorance is not only apparent in the slaves but in the slaveholders themselves. The masters don’t realize that through slaveholding, they are corrupting themselves with the power that they have over…show more content…
There are multiple times in Douglass’ narrative when Douglass comes across a slaveholder or overseer who seems like a compassionate person, but shortly thereafter is seen taking some kind of enjoyment in beating a slave. Even Colonel Lloyd’s sons and son-in-laws, “enjoyed the luxury of whipping the servants when they pleased” (Douglass 22). Douglass even explains how some slaveholders would rape their slaves and following the rape the father/slaveholder of the new born slaves would then beat his own children, which questions the very strong and moral bond between families. Many times after something like this happens the wife will begin to become angry and spiteful toward the new slaves as she knows what they are evidence of. Slavery even begins to affect the slaveholders’ own religion and shows how ignorant they really are. Douglass says that by allowing themselves to commit such acts of cruelty, the slaveholders would begin to validate their actions by saying that the Bible gives them the right to treat slaves this way. This kind of hypocrisy is to a degree that shows how manipulated the slaveholders really were. It is clear that Douglass is making a point that through slavery, identity is lost in more than just…show more content…
The first time Douglass fully understands this is when Hugh Auld gets mad at his wife for teaching Douglass how to spell some small words. Hugh tells his wife that, “If you give a nigger an inch, they will take an ell” (Douglass 78), which expresses his view on how quickly things would turn around if a slave were to learn how to write. Hugh doesn’t realize, but by saying this, he gives Douglass a clear vision of what is really going on with slavery. Douglass then understands that by keeping the slaves illiterate, the slaveholders are actually manipulating slaves into thinking that there is nothing for them but slavery. With this vision, Douglass begins to pursue the idea of knowledge. This motivates Douglass to educate himself since he now realizes that only through knowledge will he be able to free himself, and help to the eventual freedom of all slaves. Through Douglass’ self-education he understands that through the education of others, slaves will begin to understand that slavery is unjust and that they will begin to see themselves as men and women, and not slaves. Once slaves realize the injustice of slavery, they then begin to hate their masters even more, but still realize that they cannot escape without the threat of danger. With this, slaves begin to get smarter and smarter. They realize that if they ever want to feel the freedom from the chains of slavery, they will have to outsmart their

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