Douglass is relentless when attacking the church, he states, “The American Church is Guilty” (Douglass 1039). This has a slightly taste of irony, because here Douglass, a colored man, is calling out the most “sacred” body of people. It almost as if he was the master and they were the slave now. Next, the main theme expressed by
Douglass stated, “What am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters?” He successfully expresses his pain and anger in this quote by providing images of his and his people’s suffering. He tapped into the emotions of his audience, such as mothers, workers, and those who have felt physically pain by exposing them to the amplified struggles he and others had to face. Nonetheless, he continually reminded the audience, both explicitly and subliminally, that his group of people are too human, and that the only difference they share is the color of their skin. He is pleading his cases and hoping that it gets across to his audience in hope they will do the right
The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass presents an insight into the power differences between a slave and his master. In this account , Douglass proves that slavery destroys not only the slave but also the owner. The “poison of irresponsible power” that masters hold has a damaging effect on their morals and beliefs (Douglas 39). This immense control in the hands of a person will break their kind heart and finest feelings turning them into those of a demon. Douglass uses flashbacks , deep characterization, and appeals to the emotions to address the negative effects of slavery.
Douglass points to the vast unwillingness from the group of whites that refuses to fully perceive and accept African-Americans as deserving and equal citizens of the nation. Based on his personal experiences as a slave, Douglass is abundantly aware that the battle to abolish slavery is not an easy task. For the first twenty years of his life, he witnessed firsthand the abject cruelty of that institution in our country. Tactfully, Douglass seizes this opportunity to publicly highlight the unmerited and coarse differences in the treatment between the whites as opposed to the blacks living in the United States during this time period. He makes a “powerful testaments to the hypocrisy, bigotry and inhumanity of slavery” (Bunch 1).
Christianity was, to the slaves of America, (something with a double meaning). In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Frederick Douglass, the author, argues about how Christianity can mean one thing to a free white man and something completely different to a black slave. The slave owners follow the ‘Christianity of the Land’ while the slaves follow the ‘Christianity of Christ.’ Frederick begins to build his credibility to a, white, northern, audience by including documents from trustworthy writers and by getting into personal experiences through his writing. Throughout the narrative, he is articulate in how he writes, and it shows the reader that he is well educated.
Both Frederick Douglass and Socrates prioritize the True over their reputations. Willing to admit his weaknesses, Douglass’s main goal is to seek the True even if it means leaving his reputation undefended. He begins his speech by having a “distrust of [his] ability” and claims that when it comes to public speaking, he has “little experience” (Douglass). Douglass admits that topics concerning American history should be discussed with people who were educated through the school system instead of with a slave who has no educational background. He ultimately establishes trust with his audience by pursuing the True over maintaining his reputation.
In “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” there are many ironic actions related to religion. Douglass does his best to give us personal accounts of events he witnessed. Douglass also gives the reader a better understanding of how slaves were treated and how many people backed up their actions with
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is Frederick Douglass’s autobiography in which Douglass goes into detail about growing up as a slave and then escaping for a better life. During the early-to-mid 1800s, the period that this book was written, African-American slaves were no more than workers for their masters. Frederick Douglass recounts not only his personal life experiences but also the experiences of his fellow slaves during the period. This book was aimed at abolitionists, so he makes a point to portray the slaves as actual living people, not the inhuman beings that they are treated as. In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, slaves are inhumanly represented by their owners and Frederick Douglass shines a positive light
The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass shows the imbalance of power between slaves and their masters. In his book, Douglass proves that slavery is a destructive force not only to the slaves, but also for the slaveholders. “Poison of the irresponsible power” that masters have upon their slaves that are dehumanizing and shameless, have changed the masters themselves and their morality(Douglass 39). This amount of power and control in contact with one man breaks the kindest heart and the purest thoughts turning the person evil and corrupt. Douglass uses flashbacks that illustrate the emotions that declare the negative effects of slavery.
Douglass has shown how religious slaveholders are the worst especially when entertainment comes into play. The first being from one of his slaveholders Master Thomas, he whipped a young woman while reading a quote from the scripture to explain his reason for whipping her. The next example was with his other Master Mr.Covey, he would go to church and preach the word but come back beating slaves and going against the almighty God. The last example that is shown is again shown with Mr.Covey, he was guilty of compelling his woman slave to commit the sin of adultery. All of the examples illustrate that religious slaveholders are worst than non-religious slaveholders.
During the time when Douglass wrote this book, there were several myths which were used to justify slavery. The slaveholder during his time justified this inhuman practice using different arguments. The first argument they used was the religion. From the narrative, Douglass says that slaveholders called themselves Christians which was the dominant religion by then.
Frederick Douglass’s narrative provides a first hand experience into the imbalance of power between a slave and a slaveholder and the negative effects it has on them both. Douglass proves that slavery destroys not only the slave, but the slaveholder as well by saying that this “poison of irresponsible power” has a dehumanizing effect on the slaveholder’s morals and beliefs (Douglass 40). This intense amount of power breaks the kindest heart and changes the slaveholder into a heartless demon (Douglass 40). Yet these are not the only ways that Douglass proves what ill effect slavery has on the slaveholder. Douglass also uses deep characterization, emotional appeal, and religion to present the negative effects of slavery.
The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass challenges and enhances information from the textbook America a Narrative History. In Chapter 13 of the textbook, the Second Great Awakening is mentioned, and the author talks about how large camp meetings were held, which resulted in many converting to Methodism. Similarly, Douglass, as his master attended one, mentions a camp meeting, where Douglass hoped his master would become kinder or emancipate his slaves, however, instead it made his master crueler. In addition, in Chapter 15 the conflict between a true Christian and a Southern Christian is brought up. In both the narrative and the textbook, the fact that slavery is endorsed by the bible is brought up as part of the pro-slavery movement.
Also, in the same chapter, Douglass’ expresses his feelings for Mr.Freeland stating, “I will give Mr.Freeland the credit for being the best master I ever had” (Douglass 49). Douglass’ states that Mr.Freeland was not religious but he was the best master he ever had. It is ironic that non-religious slaveholders treat their slaves better than religious slaveholders. Therefore, Douglass notes the irony of religious and non-religious slaveholders: religious slaveholders being more cruel than non-religious slaveholders. Douglass perceives how slaves are treated worse than animals.