Frederick Douglass wrote hisnarrative during a time when slavery was still legal in almost all parts of theUnited States.
The purpose for publishing his life story was to educate othersand shed some light on what slavery was truly like from the inside and hisperspective as a slave who endured the hardships. Through this publication,Douglass hoped to gain support for the abolition of the awful practice known asslavery. His life, written on paper was intended to speak to individuals in allparts of the United States and touch them in a way that only a factual, first-hand account story on surviving slavery could. Upon being sent to Mr.
Covey who hada reputation of being the “slave breaker,” Douglass reverted back to being an obedientslave for some time. It would have seemed that Covey had successfully brokenhis spirits, but not for long. Covey was a gruesome and relentless man whopunished Douglass unjustly. After his attempt to escape Covey he was forced toreturn as he was rightfully his property. At this point Douglass felt he wouldmuch rather die than continue to endure the abuse as a slave. This was acrucial turning point because it gave him the spirit to continue to fight forhis liberty in a confrontation with Covey.
When he was due for his punishmentof not following Covey’s orders and he tried to whip him, Douglass would not godown without a fight. After nearly two hours in a quarrel, Covey left him to beand did not lay a finger on him again (56). This encounter illustrates theyoung man that Douglass was growing up to become and his beliefs for fightingfor freedom quite literally. When his time with Mr. Covey had finally come toan end, Douglass’s desire and curiosity of freedom and running away became morethan just a fantasy.
As he moved between masters and homes he was alwaysplanning a perfect escape up North. After one failed attempt he succeeded inreaching New York. He was first overwhelmed by the feeling of liberty butquickly realized the greater reality of his friends still living in slavery. He would not be completely satisfied with hisfreedom until all slavery was abolished. He became an abolitionist activist inorder to make a change for all those less fortunate than himself, for hisfriends back home who were still suffering the chains of slavery. His story continued when, at the ageof about seven Douglass left Colonel Lloyd’s plantation to work for new mastersin Baltimore. There, he was greeted by a much kinder set of owners.
He noticedhow his new master’s wife seemed to have a tender and loving heart, thiswelcomed greeting made him feel somewhat more at ease than his previous work. Themaster’s wife taught him his letters and how to spell short and simple words.Upon doing so, his master strongly disapproved of educating slaves stating thatif she continued to teach him to read “it would forever unfit him to be aslave.
He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master”(32). Overhearing his masters words, Douglass indirectly learned a valuablelesson. He learned that the owners were almost afraid to have their slaves beeducated because with knowledge, the only difference between the twoindividuals would be the color of their skin. In fact, the white men were notsuperior to the slaves in any way as there were slaveholders who were before atthe bottom of the totem pole that were not wealthy. Douglass saw the power ofeducation and made it a point to gain knowledge and further his reading skillsany way he could. He believed that if he could educate himself, there would nolonger be a way to keep slaves from pursuing a life of freedom.
Douglass was born in Tuckahoe,Maryland and like many slaves he had no knowledge of his date of birth or age (13).His recounts of his childhood on the plantation increase in severity. Being ayoung child and working for his master Anthony, he did not get as serious punishmentsfrom his master such as whippings unlike some of the other slaves. He didhowever witness life’s hardships such as his mother’s death and was unable toattend her funeral (14). He witnessed his aunt get beaten by Mr.
Plummer whotook delight in physically punishing his slaves (16). He also watched one ofhis overseers kill a man who a shot to the face (26). These events, while notphysical punishment, were moments of emotional punishment that led Douglass tofurther understand the punishment of slavery as a whole. The “Narrative of the Life of FrederickDouglass” is written from his perspective illustrating his life and journeyfrom a man living in slavery to his days as a free man.3.3Book Report