While the white individuals owned slaves even those who

            While reading this narrative I found
myself overwhelmed with sadness and anger. I read certain excerpts of the punishments
some slaves received with tear filled eyes and a wonder of how I would have responded
in that situation. Intellectually, I understood the way that slavery worked and
Douglass’s accounts aligned with what I learned in the past. Still, reading his
words as he had published filled me with a sense of emotion knowing that so
many others suffered just as he had. The pieces that stood out to me most were
that of how almost all of the white individuals owned slaves even those who
were not wealthy. It was as if they gained social standing when there was
another group of individuals beneath them. It was frustrating that they punished
and manipulated slaves and themselves into feeling that this lifestyle was
acceptable.

            Frederick Douglass wrote his
narrative during a time when slavery was still legal in almost all parts of the
United States. The purpose for publishing his life story was to educate others
and shed some light on what slavery was truly like from the inside and his
perspective as a slave who endured the hardships. Through this publication,
Douglass hoped to gain support for the abolition of the awful practice known as
slavery. His life, written on paper was intended to speak to individuals in all
parts of the United States and touch them in a way that only a factual, first-
hand account story on surviving slavery could.  

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            Upon being sent to Mr. Covey who had
a reputation of being the “slave breaker,” Douglass reverted back to being an obedient
slave for some time. It would have seemed that Covey had successfully broken
his spirits, but not for long. Covey was a gruesome and relentless man who
punished Douglass unjustly. After his attempt to escape Covey he was forced to
return as he was rightfully his property. At this point Douglass felt he would
much rather die than continue to endure the abuse as a slave. This was a
crucial turning point because it gave him the spirit to continue to fight for
his liberty in a confrontation with Covey. When he was due for his punishment
of not following Covey’s orders and he tried to whip him, Douglass would not go
down without a fight. After nearly two hours in a quarrel, Covey left him to be
and did not lay a finger on him again (56). This encounter illustrates the
young man that Douglass was growing up to become and his beliefs for fighting
for freedom quite literally. When his time with Mr. Covey had finally come to
an end, Douglass’s desire and curiosity of freedom and running away became more
than just a fantasy. As he moved between masters and homes he was always
planning a perfect escape up North. After one failed attempt he succeeded in
reaching New York. He was first overwhelmed by the feeling of liberty but
quickly realized the greater reality of his friends still living in slavery.  He would not be completely satisfied with his
freedom until all slavery was abolished. He became an abolitionist activist in
order to make a change for all those less fortunate than himself, for his
friends back home who were still suffering the chains of slavery.  

            His story continued when, at the age
of about seven Douglass left Colonel Lloyd’s plantation to work for new masters
in Baltimore. There, he was greeted by a much kinder set of owners. He noticed
how his new master’s wife seemed to have a tender and loving heart, this
welcomed greeting made him feel somewhat more at ease than his previous work. The
master’s wife taught him his letters and how to spell short and simple words.
Upon doing so, his master strongly disapproved of educating slaves stating that
if she continued to teach him to read “it would forever unfit him to be a
slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master”
(32). Overhearing his masters words, Douglass indirectly learned a valuable
lesson. He learned that the owners were almost afraid to have their slaves be
educated because with knowledge, the only difference between the two
individuals would be the color of their skin. In fact, the white men were not
superior to the slaves in any way as there were slaveholders who were before at
the bottom of the totem pole that were not wealthy. Douglass saw the power of
education and made it a point to gain knowledge and further his reading skills
any way he could. He believed that if he could educate himself, there would no
longer be a way to keep slaves from pursuing a life of freedom.

            Douglass was born in Tuckahoe,
Maryland and like many slaves he had no knowledge of his date of birth or age (13).
His recounts of his childhood on the plantation increase in severity. Being a
young child and working for his master Anthony, he did not get as serious punishments
from his master such as whippings unlike some of the other slaves. He did
however witness life’s hardships such as his mother’s death and was unable to
attend her funeral (14). He witnessed his aunt get beaten by Mr. Plummer who
took delight in physically punishing his slaves (16). He also watched one of
his overseers kill a man who a shot to the face (26). These events, while not
physical punishment, were moments of emotional punishment that led Douglass to
further understand the punishment of slavery as a whole.

            The “Narrative of the Life of Frederick
Douglass” is written from his perspective illustrating his life and journey
from a man living in slavery to his days as a free man.

3.3
Book Report