Section V Of Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

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In Section V of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, at the age of seven or eight, Douglass is chosen to relocate to Baltimore to reside with Captain Anthony’s son-in-law, Hugh Auld. Upon departing from Colonel Lloyd’s Great House Farm, he envisions Baltimore as a place of promise and enlightenment. Douglass’s relocation to Baltimore conveys the notion of cities in nineteenth-century America promising greater freedom in many aspects to the Black slave as opposed to the countryside. Cities had a certain extent of societal freedom for slaves, in addition to further literacy and affluence. He articulates, “Even the Great House itself, with all its pictures, was far inferior to many buildings in Baltimore. So strong …show more content…

Douglass describes Sophia from being an open-minded young woman, accepting of racial differences and promoting justice, to a narrow-minded woman with clouded judgment in regards to those of his Black race. As Douglass settles into his Baltimore style of living with the Aulds, Sophia takes it upon herself to teach Douglass his ABCs. Although that would seem normal for a White child, for a Black child during the nineteenth-century, that was strictly off-limits. Hugh Auld is swift to take notice of this, and immediately puts an end to the beginning of an education Douglass had been vying for for so long. Just as Sophia teaches Douglass just three letters of the ABCs, Hugh Auld goes on a tangent of racial slurs and detrimental stereotypes about Black people and their access to literacy to Sophia, which whilst disheartens Douglass, reveals to him the power of literacy. Hugh Auld says, “If you give a [slur] an inch, he will take an ell. A [slur] should know nothing but to obey his master — to do as he is told to. Learning would spoil the best [slur] in the world.” (Douglass, 29). Hugh’s baleful statements to the Black race as a whole in this moment signify the insecurities a White slaveowner in the nineteenth-century had towards the Black person receiving access to an education and literacy. As he articulates, learning would spoil the “best” Black slave in the world. Simply put, reading would open the eyes of …show more content…

I find this to be very sudden because Sophia shifts from being rather optimistic to displaying vices of anger and hatred towards slaves to the extent that she bans educational advancement for Douglass. I believe that Sophia should not have been easily influenced by her husband in regards to educating slaves and treating them a certain way, because when an individual wants to initiate change, they should stand their ground. Her viewpoints on slavery eventually fluctuate as time passes. Sophia does not stand her ground, and shifts to becoming an antagonist towards Black slaves. Douglass foreshadows this dynamic character change by stating, “But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon…I have had her rush at me with a face made all up of fury, and snatch from me a newspaper, in a manner that fully revealed her apprehension.” (Douglass, 28, 33). He vividly describes the sudden transformation of Sophia Auld, once again using a biblical lens, this time to demonstrate how the reality of slavery had altered her mindset on treating

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