Work Conditions for African Americans Depicted in the Narrative of Frederick Douglass and Invisible Man

Topics: Black people, Race and Ethnicity, Racism Pages: 4 (1407 words) Published: April 18, 2011
Work conditions for African Americans have not always been favorable and supportive for the integration of the race in a white predominant society. I will be analyzing the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass and the novel Invisible Man. Both books were written at different times in history, one during slavery and the other after the Civil war. However both portray a common theme of racial inequality. While Douglass extracts African American discrimination from his own life experience, Ellison uses one scene to eloquently depict what truly happens to African Americans in their work place. Frederick Douglass accounts the mistreatment of African Americans by whites at their work place. The mistreatment is due to the belief of racial supremacy. It is also a result of a society completely impaired by the corrosive effects of slavery, the fear of free colored men taking over the trade, and poor white men left without employment. Hired for the position of caulking, Douglass was misled and re-assigned to be the carpenters’ assistant at the beck. The issue was that there was about seventy-five carpenters at the beck and Douglass was required to help every one of them. Although the work is strenuous and unfair African Americans and whites work alongside each other. After Douglass starts working, white carpenters begin to protest because hiring African Americans would eventually lead to white carpenter’s unemployment. Many whites leave work assuring they would not go back until black carpenters were dismissed. Despite the fact that Douglass is not a carpenter, prejudice is aimed towards African Americans in general. The whites would mention that killing blacks is necessary in order to keep them from taking over the country. Douglass’ conflict with Mr. Covey, entitled the slave breaker is a turning point for him. From that point on, he determines what his attitude would be in regards to injustice. This incident leads him to strike back at any...

Cited: Douglass, Frederick. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. 2nd. Bedford/ St.Martin, 2002. 18, 104. Print.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. 2nd. New York: Random House, Inc, 1995. 198, 217. Print.
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