Slavery: Three Most Important Themes Of Frederick Douglass

1011 Words 5 Pages
Frederick Douglass employs three very important themes in his autobiography, all of which are effective at gaining the reader’s sympathy. One theme is his point that slavery is an impersonal system of dehumanization, in which slaves are treated like animals, plants, or even inanimate objects, but never like humans. He also shows how slavery corrupts the church and the legal system. White men are never subject to any legal ramifications if they hurt or even kill slaves. To help illustrate these themes, Douglass brings special attention to the slaves’ songs. He believes that most people were ignorant in believing that if the slaves are singing, they must be happy. Douglass, in order to gain the sympathy of the reader, illustrates some of the worst parts of slavery: its ability to corrupt the church, the legal system, and its impersonal, inhumane treatment of slaves. Slavery, as Douglass sees it, degrades and dehumanizes slaves on a massive scale. His first example of this is …show more content…
First, he describes, in detail, the shooting of Demby, a slave belonging to Colonel Lloyd. Demby’s overseer, Mr. Gore, shot Demby when he refused to come out of a creek to be whipped. Not only did the court never question Mr. Gore; he was respected for his toughness. Douglass describes Gore’s position in society as respected and famous. Second, Mrs. Hick, a neighbor to Douglass’s planation, beat a fifteen-year-old girl to death because the girl did not hear Mrs. Hicks’s baby crying during the night. Although her actions were gruesome, Mrs. Hicks was never prosecuted or even detained. Douglass, soon after these events, includes a saying among whites: “It was worth a half-cent to kill a “nigger,” and a half-cent to bury one (Douglass 15).” He clearly and effectively implies that slaves were considered less than human; they were property of others and could be killed without much question of the motives behind the

Related Documents