For to be free is not merely to cast off oner’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others (Nelson Mandela).
Born in 1818, Frederick Douglass was a biracial slave in the 19th century. His life and the details of it are seen to many as a representation of what it meant to be a slave in America. To many his narrative was influential and inspiring as it was not a commonality for slaves to become free in the way that Douglass did, most were born and died a slave. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass serves as a reminder of Americar’s dark past, even though it was written with the intent to convince Northerners to act against slavery. Throughout his narrative, Douglass is telling the story of his life while simultaneously criticizing slavery in America through anecdotes and personal insight. Douglass use of sincere language regarding themes such as family, education, and religion exerted his desired effects of convincing northern whites to act against slavery by offering criticism to the hypocrisy and inhumanity of white slaveholders; in doing so, Douglass gives an honest testament to his readers as to what life was like for an enslaved person. After reading the narrative, it can be believed that regarding American political developments the ideas about America and what was truly happening were two very separate realities.
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Ideas about family are also explored often throughout Douglass narrative as a way of criticizing the harsh realities of slave ownership in America. Towards the beginning of the narrative, we learn that Douglass father is unknown to him and there is the possibility that his father could be his white master, or another white man who took advantage on an enslaved black woman. Not only does Douglass never know who his father is but he also saw his mother only a few times in his life and wasnt allowed to attend her funeral after her passing. The simplicity behind Douglass relationship with his parents can be used to represent the basic human rights that were taken away from those who were slaves. In never getting to truly develop a relationship with his mother Douglass Never enjoyed, to any considerable extent, her soothing presence, her tender and watchful care, [he] received the tidings of her death with the much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger (1.4). The first relationships humans build in their lives are with their parents, by taking this right away from slaves, who were typically raised by women too old to work in the field, slaveholders also took away a sense of home and comfort.
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