The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is the autobiography of the self-freed slave Frederick Douglass. This book describes Douglass’s personal experiences with slavery and the experiences of other slaves--- what he saw. He clearly describes the horrors of slavery; whippings, the ruthlessness of the white men, and the pure lack of mercy shown towards slaves. I would highly recommend this book because it clearly describes how life was as a slave and gives the reader a better respect for these people who were not considered people at the time. The book also shows in some aspects how religion was used as a scapegoat to control and dehumanize people.
After finishing the book, it seems like there are pieces missing. When in fact, there are...on purpose. Since Frederick was a runaway slave he left out identities of other slaves as well as the details about his masters in fear of being returned to them. He also left out the details about his escape so slave owners could not figure out the slave run away system.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in Talbot County, Maryland in either 1817 or 1818. Douglass was moved around a lot throughout his childhood years since slaves were sometimes loaned out. Throughout the story you see the different personalities of his different slave owners. Some were absolutely brutal, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse it does. Although his experiences were terrible, Douglass never lost his faith. Throughout his life and struggles he still had a spirit of hope that things would get better.
A defining moment in Douglass’s life was when he was loaned from his master’s plantation, Colonel Lloyd, to Mr and Mrs Hugh Auld to take care of their son, Thomas. This was a shaping moment in Douglass’s life because it was his first taste of freedom. This was because the Hugh Auld’s had never had a slave before, so they treated him like a guest in their home not a slave to their son. However, eventually Mrs. Auld began to slip into slave owner tendencies of brutality; this is when Douglass decided to teach himself to read as he thought it was a gateway to freedom. Unforchantly for Douglass, Mrs. Auld also identified that reading was a gateway to freedom and began to watch him like a hawk to make sure he wasn’t teaching himself. However Douglass was very smart-- he would exchange food for knowledge with the local white boys his age. He was 12 years old at this time. Eventually he began to learn more and more without the knowledge of his masters. Mr. Auld was correct, through his newly acquired ability to read opened his eyes to the reality of slavery. At times he wondered if it was a blessing or a curse to be able to read. Not only