Violence In Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

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Fredrick Douglass is an activist for the anti-slavery movement and has publically spoken at multiple different abolitionist rallies in the 1800s, shining light on the horrors of slavery. He eventually wrote an autobiography based on his experiences as a slave, describing the everyday sufferings that his people have gone through for being coloured in the United States. In chapter four of his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself”, he goes into the types of violence and oppressive that he saw and experienced, whether it was through physical beatings or the failure of a just legal system. While describing these different forms of brutality, he also uses these examples to show the contrasts …show more content…
The act of murdering a coloured person was not seen as a crime in the eyes of the law and nothing could be done by slaves to amend this. Therefore, white masters would strengthen this oppression by committing these acts of cruelty by knowing that they would never be convicted. As an example, Thomas Lanman was a man who bragged about killing two slaves, one by “knocking his brains out” (Douglass, 27), and the legal system failed to properly act in regards to him. As a result, these four forms of violence and oppression made life unbearable for any coloured individual within the state, regardless if they were free or …show more content…
Whenever he describes the actions and daily activities of slaves, he never said a single positive thing in regards to them. It was constantly about their pain as they were suffering from being tortured or murdered for petty reasons. In contrast, slave owners and overseers such as Lanman laughed and was joyful about killing a slave, while Gore would most likely be highly respected for his harsh treatments as overseer. These cruel acts are jarringly matched together with positivity, and it’s almost bewildering as to how deeds such as these can be praised. Furthermore, Douglass uses the ages of two murdered slaves to draw specific reactions from the audience, which are shock and disbelief. The first is of the fifteen or sixteen year old girl, who was far too young to die, especially in such a brutal manner, or at least too young if she were a white girl. The second is of an old man who unknowingly trespassed onto Beal Bondly’s land while fishing for oysters and, as a result, was immediately shot. Douglass could have omitted the ages of these two individuals but he chose to leave them in because it draws attention to how cruel these murders were. It also allows the reader to subconsciously to create a link between the black slaves and white citizens, comparing scenarios and how they might have ended should the colour of the individual was changed. For

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