The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass shows the hardships Douglass went through before he finally gained his freedom. In his story, he gives the readers firsthand information of the pain, brutality, and humiliation of the slaves.
He shows the cruelty of slavery and how it affects not only the slave but the slaveholder as we. As a slave, Frederick Douglass witnessed the brutalization of the blacks whose only problem was being of color and in the wrong place at the wrong time. He explains the pain, and suffering they all went through, and how he fought for his freedom through learning how to read. Douglass’s mother was a black slave and his father was a white man, rumor had it that it was his master. He was born near 1817 in Maryland, as Frederick Bailey. His slaveholder separated him and his mother when he was very young so that they never had that mother son bond.
He was raised by his grandma on the estate of his master, Captain Aaron Anthony. His childhood was relatively happy, for a slave, until he was transferred to Colonel Edward Lloyd’s home. In 1825 Douglass was again transferred, this time to the Baltimore household of Hugh Auld. Mrs. Auld had never had a slave in her home before and felt bad when she found out that he didn’t know how to read so began teaching him. Mr. Auld insisted that she stop teaching him.
For that wasn’t how you were to treat a slave. When this happened it became aware to Douglass that there must be something important about reading otherwise Mr. Auld wouldn’t have made such a big deal. Douglass was sure that knowing how to read was an important part to gaining his freedom and secretly began learning to read on his own.Douglass was able to really think about freedom when he learned how to read.
He also became fully aware of the reality of slavery; he wrote “Literacy had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity” (36). Unawareness was how the slaveholders kept their slaves manageable, happy, obedient, and content. Once a slave became aware and moved past their ignorance they would realize how bad slavery really is and would want to be free. Education was and still is everything. Douglass wanted so badly to educate slaves which, he believed, would mean the end of slavery.Douglass was so determined to learn how to read and to become a free man that he did everything he could to make it happen.
He would make trades with the kids in the neighborhood. He would offer them food for teaching him to read. Which was ironic because he was a slave and had food to give.
Other times he would trick the kids by pretending that he knew what a word was and then he would say it knowing that it was wrong so that the kids would correct him and say the right way to pronounce it. He would also steal his masters learning book so he could practice writing the words also. Him learning how to read gave him a sense of self worth. It also really encouraged him to continue to work toward his freedom. Douglass showed us the pain, and suffering him and all other slaves went through, and how he fought for his freedom through learning how to read. He fought hard and he fought long.
It was never an easy fight for him to be free or to learn it, was a constant struggle, but it gave him a purpose and self worth. It boosted his confidence and when he was able to learn new words he felt proud of himself. He showed how hard it was tobe a slave and the cruelty of the masters, and how he overcame all of that.