The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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The True Story of Slavery
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a riveting story that shows how cruel and dehumanizing slavery truly is. Slavery was an issue for nearly all of the 70 years it plagued America. In this narrative Douglass brings to light the sickening experience that slavery is for slaves themselves. Douglass is able to communicate how terrible the institution of slavery is because of the physical abuse many masters forced the slaves to endure, the necessities that were not provided to them, and their treatment as something like cattle.

Douglass learned very early that brutal physical abuse was synonymous with everyday plantation life. For nearly any reason, a supervisor or overseer could beat or whip a slave. Most of the times slaves were abused, it was done publically in order to set a precedent for punishment of other slaves. The theory was that when other slaves see their possible punishment, that they would behave themselves. Douglass recalls a gruesome scene from his early days on the plantation that perfectly illustrates the cruelty of the overseers. He recalls his first overseer, Mr. Plumber, beating his Aunt Hestor:

“He used to tie [her] up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back until she was literally covered in blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest. He would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush” (Douglass 5) This beating shows the pain that overseers go out of the way to create incredibly painful and uncomfortable situations that their slaves must go through. Unfortunately, this example was commonplace, and done even for the smallest wrongdoings. This caused spectators to think they could do nothing to avoid being beaten because someday the will mess up and be forced to endure the pain of the cow skin....
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