Narrativ Eof the Life of Frederick Douglas

Karie Russell
Professor McDougal
Essay Four
23 November 2009
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas
While reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas I felt overwhelmed. I have read about slave pieces in high school but none that have touched me like this. He explains in detail the treatment he and his fellow slaves received and the punishments were unbearable. I do not understand how people came to treat others this way. It is incredible to me that he not only learned to read and write but escaped the harsh life to be able to tell about it.
While reading the beginning of the story he states that he did not know his mother. “My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant- before I knew her as my mother” (Douglas 2072). To separate someone from their own mother is horrible, especially just so they won’t know her. When his mothered passed away he said he received her tidings but felt as though he was receiving things from a stranger. He had no emotion for the “tidings” as he called them. He goes on to tell about the white children being able to tell their age and know their parents and he is envious because he cannot.
While reading further I came across the first whipping that he witnessed. He was hidden so he wouldn’t get in trouble for watching. His aunt had gone out at night and was not allowed to. When the master called for her she was not there and when she returned he started to whip her. “…I’ll learn you to disobey my orders! And after rolling up his sleeves, he commenced to lay on the heavy cowskin, and soon the warm red blood came dripping to the floor…” (Douglas 2075). This is not something that we ever witness and to be a common thing back then is just horrible. He remained hidden for the duration of the whipping because he had never seen anything like this before and he feared he would be next.
The slave life was not easy and was made hard for a reason. The master’s felt if they made punishment and life hard enough...