April 11, 2010
At the beginning of chapter ten Frederick Douglass composes the dramatic chiasmus: “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” In making this statement Douglass highlights the irony of seeing how a slave has to become a free man in a country based on the moral ideas of freedom and free rights. This sentence serves as the turning point and the climax of Douglass’ narrative and life. When I read this quote I envision the burden bestowed upon a man trying to establish his freedom, but also establish himself. Douglass, unlike free people, had to recreate a fundamental base upon which freedom can grow, recreate human value. Douglass uses half his narrative to explain to the reader the loss of his freedom and manhood. He then asserts that “you shall see how a slave was made a man,” and sequentially explains the steps employed to recreate his human worth and regain his liberty. Douglass called upon intellectual, spiritual and physical devices and experiences to build his stairway to regain what slavery had been so busy working out of him for most of his young life.
Douglass illustrates the importance of the intellectual ability to read as the groundwork to freedom. He chooses to highlight the afternoon when his education was halted in order to explain the significance of reading to the foundation of his freedom. He explains the magnitude of his ability to read when he states that, “what [Mr. Auld] most dreaded, that I most desired. What I most loved, that he most hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought.” (41) On this day, Mr. Auld’s dramatic resistance to Douglass’s learning to read made him realize reading’s great importance. The sense of urgency given to the situation of Mr. Auld’s wife teaching in front of Douglass showed him how masters were inclined to keep their slaves less intelligent and, quite frankly, dumb to the circumstance they were placed in. Douglass, understanding the importance of reading, obtained a Webster’s Dictionary and began to build himself a vocabulary. Douglass was smart, after only one day of learning he had mastered the ABC’s and with only one lesson from a few boys on the street, had learned to compile those letters into small words. Over the next few years Douglass became an extremely literate and thinking slave, something his predecessors lacked. Through reading and learning Douglass created the foundation needed for turning a slave into a man, he opened the world of literacy.
Frederick Douglass once said, 'there can be no freedom without education.' I believe this statement is true. During slavery, slaves were kept illiterate so they would not rebel and become free. Many slaves were stripped from their families at an early age so they would have no sense of compassion towards family members. Some slaves escaped the brutal and harsh life of slavery, most who were ...
Douglass’s literacy sparked the emotional transformation into a free man. It sparked his next stride up the stairs to freedom, recapturing his pride. In Douglass’ apostrophe to the ships on Chesapeake Bay in chapter ten he begins to regain his divine right to human pride. In this emotional torrent to the material ships on the water, he states “You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip!” (63) The comparison of Douglass to the ships is very influential. I believe it shows that even the ships, lifeless wooden structures, are more free than the slave looking down on them roaming the open water. Water and the ocean have always represented freedom and Douglass portrays this in his remark to the ships. As Douglass sat on the shore looking at ships swim free, he realized that he too could obtain freedom. Douglass, through this small representation of freedom regains his courage to be a free man and in turn his pride as a slave, not man quite yet. Freedom became the theme in his mind. These ships gave him the emotional support needed to obtain freedom. He was now intellectually stable and emotionally committed. It was no coincidence that his short speech to the ships came so close to his life-changing two hour fight with Mr. Covey.
A series of aristocratic leading men, or Frankish empire with large numbers of more or less equal free men under a King Traditional view that Frankish full of free men Why: Merovingians acted so arbitrarily that does not seem to have been an effective aristocratic counter-force. Legal evidence distinguishes between unfree and free, implies no nobility Not much evidence for inheritance of power and ...
Douglass obtained the ability to read and with his new found knowledge began to understand that his social position was not natural or god given. He arrived at Mr. Covey’s farm on January 1, 1833. After, failing to take care of the oxen, Covey orders Douglass to strip for a whipping. When Douglass does not respond, Covey rushes at him, tears his clothing off, and whips him repeatedly. Covey whipped Douglass almost weekly from then on. After six months of working under Mr. Covey, Douglass writes:
“Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!”
Mr. Covey had successfully broken Douglass. Without his pride, no matter how intelligent his literacy made him, Douglass lacked the emotional confidence to stand up for himself, and thus would remain a slave in body and spirit. While Douglass emotional transformation began with the mindset of becoming a freeman, illustrated by his apostrophe to the wooden ships, it ends with the poignant, pride driven struggles with Mr. Covey.
The final emotional step to the reincarnation of this man takes place as Douglass refuses to be whipped by Mr. Covey and engages in the two hour long fight with him. Douglass states after the fact, “the truth was, that he had not whipped me at all; I considered him as getting entirely the worst end of the bargain; for he had drawn no blood from me but I had from him.” This fight, the turning point in Douglass’s life, represents the final stage of acquiring his pride as a human being, the pride for standing up for one’s self and never again truly being owned by another as he states, “however long I might remain a slave in form; the time had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” Douglass had finally stood up to the physical representation of slavery, a Master, and completed the transformation from an emotionally beaten, yet prideful, slave to an emotionally prideful man. Douglass was essential free in mind, he could read, write, and think on his own. He was also free in spirit; he had all the pride a free man had. But fight with Covey concluded Douglass retrieval of spirit and his resolve to be free. All he needed now was to be free in body.
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was the best known and most influential African American leader of the 1800 s. He was born a slave in Maryland but managed to escape to the North in 1838. He traveled to Massachusetts and settled in New Bedford, working as a laborer to support himself. In 1841, he attended a convention of the Massachusetts Antislavery Society and quickly came to the attention of its ...
Body, the first thing broken by Mr. Covey was the final step in his rebirth into freedom. His hardships continued though, as he failed twice to escape from former masters, Mr. Covey and, ironically, Mr. Freeland. After his attempts Douglass finds his way to a new apprenticeship at the shipyard but is treated unfairly there also. Four white apprentices attacked Douglass at the shipyard and almost ruined his eye. He started to fight back but decided against it, as lynch laws dictated that any black man who hit a white man may be killed, a tribute to his ability to think on his own. Master Hugh is kind regarding his situation and refuses to let Douglass return to that shipyard. At this point, Douglass is employed at another shipyard to be a caulker and receives wages, but is forced to give money to Master Auld. Douglass eventually finds his own job and plans the date in which he will escape to the North with his proceedings from that job. He succeeds but writes little of the process to keep those that helped safe. His trip takes him and his new wife to New Bedford.
Douglass contrasts the abundance of the free northern town of New Bedford with the poor conditions he experienced in the slave-holding southern city of Baltimore. “Everything looked clean, new, and beautiful. I saw few or no dilapidated houses, with poverty-stricken inmates; no half-naked children and barefooted women.” (97) He had been expecting the North to be poor because they didn’t own slaves. After all the hardships that he endured on his path to freedom, Douglass uses this statement to express that all the effort was worth a slave less town. Douglass’s shock illustrates the darkness that he had been in for so long. Yes he had obtained intellectual freedom and spiritual freedom, but in the end it took his physical displacement from the South to bring him true freedom in all three aspects of the word.
Did Gender Make a Difference Within slavery there were harsh conditions which Frederick Douglass tries to convey in his biography "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." Within this narrative he dezribes how men and women slaves were treated differently by their masters. Women were abused by their master, physically, sexually, and mentally, while men were mostly abused physically and ...
In August 1841, Douglass attended an antislavery convention and spoke about his experience as a slave. Naturally, he was anxious about speaking in front of whites, but in the end talked effortlessly. Since that day, Douglass has worked to plead the case against slavery. From here, Douglass had completed his final step to manhood from slave, standing up for himself as a freeman in front of freemen. Douglass’s steps were complete. He had the intellect, the spirit, and the physical aspects of being free. He had slowly gained respect, a higher level aspect of becoming a man from, not a slave, but a freeman. He would go on to aid others in there transformation from slave to free man.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. Ed. John W. Blassingame, John R. McKivigan and Peter P. Hinks. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001.