Literary Analysis of an American Slave

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The book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave written in 1845 is an account of the experience and ambitions of Frederick Douglass, a former slave. The work of Douglass is among other literature work on slavery depicting the experience of the Blacks under the regime. Douglass as a former slave narrates his experience with courage and determination based on his desire for abolition. The book is an influential work that describes the struggle for mental and physical freedom that dominated the minds of millions of slaves during the eighteenth century. This excerpt is a literary analysis of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

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It is worth to note that factual tone in the Douglass narrative as a memoir and treatise on abolition shows how knowledge is a path to freedom from slavery. The life of slaves as depicted in his experiences and ambitions was full of oppression and discrimination. The life of Douglass started to shape up when his master Colonel Lloyd loaned him to Mr and Mrs Hugh Auld. Douglass was to look after Thomas for a short period and later return to Lloyd, his master. However, Douglass started to learn some simple word through the help of Mrs Auld, who is then warned about the consequences of educating a slave. Mr Auld states that If you give a nigger an inch he will take an ell if you teach a nigger how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. When Douglass overheard this conversation, he knew that more knowledge would be necessary for his freedom and that of other slaves. The desire in to find out more led to his discovery of abolition. In fact, Mrs Auld later changes her perception towards slaves when her husband described why the slaves were still under their control (Douglass 77). However, Douglass explains how this revelation was the beginning of a new dawn and through Thomas, he learned how to read and write.

Moreover, using an underlying bitter tone, Douglass narrative shows the extent to which brutality and physical torture was used to instil fear and submission among the slaves. The masters, who abused power, whip and jail their subjects, which increased the misery and suffering among slaves. Douglass explained how he was beaten when working under Mr Covey almost on the weekly basis being considered stubborn. The other account noted by Douglass is when he collapsed in the fields because he was exhausted and overworked; however, he has is brutally whipped again for this occurrence. The magnitude of the mistreatment slaves received from their masters shows the extent to which masters abused their privileges (Douglass 69). The fear for ones life prevented the slaves from reacting against such torture and chose to remain loyal. The regular pain from Covey one day led to a battle where Douglas overpowered him; however, he is not punished by the laws governing the conduct of slaves because Covey wanted to protect his reputation as a Negro-breaker. Later when he tried to escape, he is caught and sent to prison for two years.

Furthermore, using a simple tone to captures the emotions of the reader to share in his experiences, Douglass narrates how social injustices are used to manipulate the slaves to control them. Douglass only saw his mother during the night because the children were separated from their parents to limit the influence they could receive concerning their history. The masters lied about the age and origin of their slaves and were compared to animals being counted as possessions during inheritance. Douglass notes that Slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs. Douglass also highlights the sexual relationships between some masters and female slaves. Moreover, he believes that his father was a white man (Douglass 49). Besides, the limited knowledge of their identities reduced the bonding and loyalty among slaves. Children live to know little about their situation. Douglas struggled to understand the meaning of abolition and through Thomas, he learns how to read and write, which enabled him to understand the writings in the newspapers and the book The Columbian Orator.

In conclusion, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is a reality tale of the desire of Frederick Douglas for freedom and fair treatment. The book is written with courage since the author takes the risk of mentioning the specific names and associated events, which could be controversial. Douglas explains how the experiences of slaves are characterized by brutality, mistreatment, and discrimination. The experience of Douglass is bitter, and the tone that dominates the narration allows the reader to associate with the historical injustices of slavery as well as the struggle for freedom. The tale is rather emotional that expository; however, the intentions of the writer is clear and straightforward.

Work Cited

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Anti-Slavery Office: United States, (1845). Print.

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