Essay about Narrative of Frederick Douglass

Submitted By mdelsole
Words: 684
Pages: 3

Slavery was a common feature of southern culture, not just an isolated institution, in southern life. Frederick Douglass, an African American, was born into slavery in the state of Maryland in the early 1800’s. Enduring the hardships of slavery throughout the first twenty years of his life, Douglass continued to become a prominent American abolitionist and author. Apart from the physical abuse, slaves, including Douglass, experienced vicious acts committed by both non-slave owning and slave owning whites; families were torn apart, their previous culture was destroyed, and they were deprived of most rights as a human being. Many slaves’ lives were ended while under the control of their masters, yet some, like Frederick Douglass, strived for freedom and were eventually relieved of the commands and abuse from their masters. He writes, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man” (Douglass, 39). Determination was the key. As well as affecting blacks, slavery put constraints on whites, including slave owning and non-slave owning whites. Slavery had a horrifying and consequently, irreversible impact on the development of African-Americans and their culture. However, this impact was caused by several factors, not just their treatment. The destruction of their previous culture and their inability to communicate as slaves both negatively affected African-American culture. Enslaved African Americans were separated from their families and forced into a life of intense, brutal labor. Douglass writes, “My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant—before I knew her as my mother. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection towards its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child” (Douglass, 1, 2). Some children such as Douglass did not have the opportunity of knowing their mother, experiencing love and affection, or having someone as a means of both physical and emotional protection at any point in their life. Everything that had once been a part of their culture was no longer a part of their life. Those as fortunate as Frederick Douglass were eventually able to escape the brutalities of slavery, although it was not easy. Plans were devised in advance and required consideration of the chance of being caught by both their slave owners and other whites who were determined to confine blacks to a life of slavery. Douglass made many attempts to escape multiple masters, yet succeeded only once, and that is all he needed. In preparation to escape,