TheNarrative of Frederick Douglas
Thenarrative of Frederick Douglas is an autobiography written byFrederick. The book entails his early life and the horrific detailsof slavery mistreatment that he experienced. Douglass lived in aplantation owned by a man who was presumably his father. He had apatchy relationship with his mother who was separated from him whenFrederick was young she died when he was around ten years old.Douglass went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld in Baltimore it wasthere that he learned the skill of reading and writing. The man ofthe house forbade the lessons his wife was giving to Douglass, but hecontinued learning from the white children in the neighborhood.Reading enabled him to seek out journals and newspapers it wasthrough avid comprehension that he developed his ideological stand onslavery. In chapter 10, he goes to live with Mr. Covey, a man who isreputable for being a slave breaker during his stay there, Douglassadmits that he feels broken in body soul and spirit. This paper seeksto examine Douglass’ feelings and thoughts on issues he goesthrough and further relate them to actions it will also analyze hisperformance as a writer.
Douglassfeels that being a slave to a spiritual master is the worst thingthat could happen to someone. Mr. Covey thought himself to be a piousman yet he was the worst slaveholder that Douglas worked for, heoverworked them, whipped his slaves for little reasons and gave themlittle time to eat. When Frederick Douglas went to work for Mr.Freeland, he regards the fact that he does not profess to anyreligion, a significant advantage. The other two masters he meetsthat live next to Mr. Freeland claim to be religious but treat theirslaves badly and even destroy Douglass’s Sabbath school. Douglassays, “For all slaveholders, I have ever met the religiousslaveholders are the worst” (Douglass 67). These religiousslaveholders even found justification to treat the slaves badly fromthe Bible. Reverend Weeden was among the pretentious religious menthat Douglas referred to, he owned a female slave who he whippedmercilessly for no apparent reason. The man thought that it was hisduty to whip slaves occasionally just to remind them of theirmaster’s authority. On the other hand, Reverend Hopkins beat hisslaves every Monday morning just to instill fear in them. Douglass’feelings towards religious slaveholders are confirmed when he worksfor Mr. Freeman, a man who is not spiritual he gives them enoughtime to eat, he is not cunning like Mr. Covey, and slaves do not worktill midnight. Douglas Frederick confirms that he went for a yearwithout whipping under the workmanship of Mr. Freeman (71). FrederickDouglas delivers his feelings towards religious slaveholdersexcellently. He uses examples of how religious slaveholders treattheir subjects and goes ahead to compare them with a non-spiritualmaster. The delivery style gives the reader a clear picture of histhoughts and feelings.
FrederickDouglas feels that God has abandoned him he has a love-haterelationship with him. In one instance, he is begging God to help himescape slavery the next moment he questions his existence. In hiswords, Frederick says “I am left in the hottest hell of unendingslavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is thereany God? Why am I a slave?”(Douglass 56) From the above quote,Douglass’s feelings about God are not clear, he asks the almightyto save him from the shackles of slavery then goes ahead to say thatif he exists why would he let him languish in that situation? Itseems like Douglass did not believe that God could save him at oneinstance he says that he would be filled with hope but after a while,he would resign himself to anguish like the rest of the slaves(Douglass 57). If he believed that God would hear his earnest prayerand save him, he would not grief as he said. In another situation,Douglas thinks about his fellow slaves that are still in slavery, andthis leads him to question if a just God rules the universe (Douglass70). Frederick imagines that if God was just, then he would punishthe slaveholders. Frederick in the above instance shows his waveringfaith in God. Douglass delivers his thoughts in angry but reservedtone in the quotes above, he lets out his emotions compared to theother parts of the chapters where he hides them.
Insummation, Frederick thinks that having a religious slaveholder isthe biggest calamity that could befall a slave. Actions by hisslaveholder Mr. Covey prove his feelings about the issue. He usesbrutal force on his slaves by whipping them he is always watchingthem while they work to instill fear in them so that they do notstop. The other two religionists, Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Waldeen arealso wicked men who take pleasure in hurting the slaves but pretendto profess the Christian religion. Douglass finds their pretentiousways distasteful he prefers his slaveholder Mr. Freeman who does notpretend to be religious. Douglas feels that God does not exist sincehe allows him to be a slave. Frederick delivers his thoughts aboutGod in a way that makes the reader feel that he doubts God’sexistence. Douglass implies that God is unfair since he does notpunish the slaveholders who still hold slaves (this is after he freedhimself)
Douglas,Frederick. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (AmericanSlave). New York. Frederick Douglass. (1845). Print.