Douglass’ Dual Purpose
Frederick Douglass' autobiography holds value in the fact that it was written by a former slave which allows for a view of slavery from the inside. In the narrative, Douglass simultaneously presents his own story, as well as the plight of the slave in general, to illustrate their lives. Douglass makes many arguments about the dehumanizing nature of slavery while also using his language to humanize all slaves. He makes arguments about destruction of slave family life, physical violence, and the withholding of education. Also, he uses allusion, symbolism, and diction to humanize himself and all African Americans.
One of the most emphasized dehumanizing aspects of slavery described by the author is the …show more content…
He was enslaved in Maryland, a state known for its tolerable treatment of slaves in comparison to deep South counterparts. As a result, Douglass experienced some of the least brutal aspects of slavery, but he still experienced brutality beyond description. Mr. Covey, a slave owner known for his cruelty, epitomizes the behavior of most white slave owners. While under his employment, Douglass falls victim to exhaustion and, as a result, stops doing his work. Rather than attending to his medical needs, Covey instead chooses to beat Douglass, leaving a “large wound” on the man’s already aching head. While this act shows how little the well-being of the slaves mattered to the masters, it also shows how dehumanized and desensitized slavery made the masters. Covey was able to strike a defenseless, innocent young man, even drawing considerable amounts of blood, without showing any shred of remorse. Furthermore, this phenomenon is not exclusive to Mr. Covey. Another overseer, Mr. Gore, rivals Covey in sheer cruelty and lack of regret. When a slave runs into a creek to soothe his whip wounds and refuses to come out, Gore, with no hesitation, shoots the slave in his head. Again, there is an overseer who has no trouble committing sickening acts against slaves with little to no justification. This act, which provokes no reaction from Gore, sends a “thrill of horror” through everyone else on the plantation. His position as a slave owner and an overseer of slaves allows him to avoid the emotional toll this type of violence might take on the average man. He, like all other owners of slaves, simply becomes a victim of slavery’s