Narrative of Fredrick Douglas

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 3 (1060 words) Published: December 7, 2010
Prompt: Douglass maintains that slavery dehumanized both the slave and the slaveholder. Quoting specific passages in the Narrative support this thesis with examples.

Dehumanization can be described as the deprivation of an individual’s control over their actions and stripping them of their basic human rights and qualities. The act of dehumanization transpired in the 1800s when amputation, abuse, and other brutal means of punishment became a way to control slaves, leaving physical and physiological trauma on both the slave and the slaveholder. The relationship of the master and the slave is criticized and questioned continually as it is both wrong and unjust in society. The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave optimizes this accurately; documenting the distressing treatment inflicted upon the slaves by their owners. Douglass also illustrates the slaveholder exploiting their powers and its detrimental effects on the slaveholder.

Throughout the course of the novel, Douglass explains the different strategies and techniques the slaveholders used to keep the slaves ignorant, a scheme by which they gained more power. Such behavior led many to believe the blacks were truly incompetent to participate within the white community, thus stripping them of their first natural right. Like animals, African American Slaves were also “trained” physiologically to think, Kumari 2

behavior, and act like slaves from birth. As explained in the Narrative, “the larger parts of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs.” (Douglass 17) The comparison compels the reader to compare the development of the slaves to that of an animal; detached and dispassionate. Douglass depicts another tormenting effect on the slaves as they had “no more voice in that decision than the brutes among whom we were ranked.” (Douglass 49) This treatment of slaves as property or domestic animals concerns Douglass and epitomizes, yet again a...
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