The Role Of Community In Narrative Of The Life Of An African-American Slave

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In Narrative of the Life of an American Slave by Frederick Douglass, the African-American community is discriminated against by elite white males. Douglass’s experiences recorded within the text display the actions held out by the slaves owners and the results they had on the slaves. The African-American community in Narrative of the Life of an American Slave were abused physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
One of the ways the African-American community in Narrative of the Life of an American Slave were abused was physically. Female slaves took a high physical toll as they were objectified as breeders and sex slaves. Often, slave owners would breed these women in order to sell the offspring or gain an extra pair of hands in the fields.
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Slave owners were able to psychologically abuse the slaves by denying them an education. This was done in an attempt to prevent the African-American community from becoming informed and educated. Douglass states in his book, “to make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.” (Douglass 1223). Lack of knowledge prevented the slaves from being able to perform jobs outside of manual labor. Slave owners feared that informed slaves would result in revolt. Douglass was fortunate to have his master’s wife, Mrs. Auld, help teach him how to read and write. However, Mr. Auld did not approve of teachings slaves. He proclaims, "learning would spoil the best nigger in the world” (Douglass 1196). Ellis while analyzing Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom claimed, “modern readers are likely to recognize this deadpan reference to slavery’s “human crop” as a bit of free indirect discourse—a wry impersonation of Colonel Lloyd’s casual disregard for the humanity of his “human stock.” (Ellis 275). Ellis’s analyzation rightfully depicts the mindset that Mr. Auld had, of which slaves were more of a resource than a human being. Mr. Auld’s philosophy was that upon learning the basic principles of schooling, a slave would no longer accept his role as a slave, and would pursue something greater. One can see that this is true through Douglass as he would not settle for anything short of freedom. Douglass denounced the title of a slave as he stated, “however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me.” (Douglass 1215). Despite the punishment for teaching slaves being quite severe, Douglass taught his companions while enslaved by Mr. Freeland. With such a strong desire to inform

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