How Did Frederick Douglass Dehumanize African Americans

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On the eve of the Civil War, the abolitionist movement and the opposition to slavery were very strong and powerful. While many people knew that slavery was a disgusting and degrading institution, there was not much first-hand information available about the inhumane effects that slavery had on both black and white people. In his narrative, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Frederick Douglass demonstrates the dehumanizing effects slavery had, not only on African slaves, but also on the white population. In order to kindle the abolitionist movement and the opposition to slavery, Douglass includes his own personal accounts of life as a slave in America and utilizing elevates diction and vivid imagery…show more content…
Douglass begins his narrative with the analogy, “Slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs (pg. 1).” This analogy is saying that slaves know nothing of their age, which is a basic fact that most people can recall instantly. Also, by using this specific analogy, Douglass is demonstrating how slavery is dehumanizing for blacks by bringing slaves down to the level of a barn animal. White readers at the time would have never known personally what it as like to be treated similarly to an animal, but many were aware that animals were pieces of property, not something that you saw as an equal to a person. By comparing a slave to an animal, white Northerners who had little exposure to slavery could now see how the institution of slavery degraded slaves from the status of a human to that of a piece of expendable property. Later on, Douglass uses a parallel structure to describe the sadness and pain that he feels for his lonely grandmother who, after her master died, was not granted freedom, but instead was sent to live alone in a hut. He says, “ If my poor old grandmother now lives, she lives to suffer in utter loneliness; she lives to remember and mourn over the loss of children, the loss of grandchildren, and the loss of great-grandchildren (pg. 48).” The parallel structure that this quote is written in
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