Literature and History: The Development of American Culture to 1865

Narrative of the Life Of Frederick Douglass

“Written by himself”

This is such an important and meaningful addition to the title of Douglass’s narrative.  It shows readers that he, and only he wrote this narrative.  It  gives the reader proof that he wrote it.  To those that were doubtful of Douglass’s skills and capabilities, and doubted him because he was a slave, this sort of “sticks it to them”.  Frederick Douglass’s narrative is by far one of the best pieces of literature I have read.  The way in which he wrote his narrative can not help but affect the reader in a profound way.  There are a few strong themes/things that stood out to me while reading this narrative.  Throughout the story, Douglass tends to victimize female slaves and gives them all tragic cases instead of the male slaves.  The vivid and detailed descriptions and images that Douglass created of their abused and mangled  bodies truly brings out pain among readers. While I was reading these sections about slaves like Aunt Hester and how brutally their masters treated them,I had all the more intense feelings of outrage and hatred towards slavery.  While the whipping of Aunt Hester was Douglass’s first introduction to the realities of slavery,  reading about these treatments of slaves could have been many of the readers introduction to the realities of slavery, from a very personal and graphic level.

Another thing that stood out to me most in this story was how the slave masters/owners changed character over the course of time.  Like, for example, Douglass’s mistress in Baltimore,  became so irresponsible and abusive of her power that eventually changed her entire psyche.  Douglass communicated to the reader that even good white people are destroyed in moral character because of the power given to them.  This ultimately communicates that slavery is not meant to be, it is cruel and completely unnatural for not only the slave, but especially the slave holder.


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