Frederick Douglass Narrative Paper

Submitted By Johny-Boy
Words: 2021
Pages: 9

Jonathan Candelaria 4/3/14
USSO Professor H. Forstyle Religious Arguments Against Equal Rights for All
Frederick Douglass wrote his biography titled Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, with the intent to expose the hypocrisy of slaveholders and the immorality of slavery in the face of religion. He uses personal examples just as much as others’ experiences to exemplify these points to readers. Douglass depicts himself differently from other slaves’ experiences in that the more educated he became, the more courage he gained to break free, exemplifying himself as a pioneer and leader among former slaves. Education and learning to read and write opened his eyes to how slaveholders wrongfully used religion as justification in the establishment of slavery. Before his Education, Fredrick Douglass was accepting of his life as a slave only out of ignorance. As a young boy he was not aware of much, because he was uneducated as the policy of the times prohibited educating slaves. In chapter 2 of his narrative, Douglass recounts how the slaves where he lived would sing every morning on the way from home to the fields for the day’s work. These songs they song […] when leaving home […] they would sing […] I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. […] “They told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension. In this quote Douglass was very young at the time, when he couldn’t comprehend the meaning of the songs the slaves would sing on the way to work. The reason why he couldn’t understand the meaning was because he was a young uneducated slave. The fact that, as he writes his narrative, he clearly expresses understanding of these songs to where it even brings him to tears as he goes on to say, shows how long a way he has come from being that young slave, through his education. Sophia Auld, the mistress of one of his slave owners was the one person who opened his eyes to education, by teaching him to read and write before being influenced by her husband to treat him as other slaveholders did, cruel and inhumane. Mr. Auld said in the presence of Douglass after finding out that; “Now," said he, "if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him.[…] It would make him discontented and unhappy." His master is clearly concerned about the fact that his wife began teaching Douglass how to read and write. This is because he knows that if he becomes educated his eyes would be open to the hypocrisy of an institution that slavery was, which is what he meant when he said that Douglass would become discontented and unhappy. Not allowing slaves an education was a form of oppression which allowed slaveholders to keep slaves ignorant and in the dark, and thus more servile to them. Indeed as Douglass stated himself; “for they had much rather see us engaged in those degrading sports than to see us behaving like intellectual, moral, and accountable beings” (77). If they behaved more like intelligent and moral beings then they would be equals with whites. Slave holders did everything they could to hold their dominion and power over slaves through this deprivation of knowledge. Their minds had been starved by their cruel masters. They had been shut up in mental darkness.” After this, he made an oath to himself to teach himself as much he could with the limited resources he had as a slave. He knew this would be the only way to fight back the evils of slavery by becoming more knowledgeable than his own slave masters. And because he knew this to be what slaveholders didn’t want among all things, for slaves to become intelligent articulate persons as they, it inspired him all the more to learn and gain as much knowledge as possible. In this way, he fought back. After