The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass is a prime example of someone overcoming many obstacles in life in the pursuit to be a free man and to obtain the American dream. Frederick Douglass will always be considered one Of the most important figures in America’s struggle for civil rights and freedom. Douglass is not only an inspiration to the African American community but he is a hero to many.
His struggle for freedom and self- discovery stands the testament of time for all people.
Douglass was born into leaver in 1818, he eventually escaped him grim future as a slave to become one of the most influential writers. He overcame all of his obstacles without any sort of proper education. Douglass was TABLE to teach himself to read and write and this led him to his freedom. Douglass’ courage engaged readers into his life as a slave. His struggle throughout his life did not cease his determination to be free.
Being born into slavery Douglass was unaware of his age, he remembers feeling unhappy that the white children knew their own age, he states; ‘that this was a way for the masters to keep the slaves anorak” (1 From an early age, we can see that Douglass was very intuitive and this innate way thinking eventually led him to freedom.
Douglass also never knew who his father was and this could have been a way to hinder his hopes of freedom, but even at an early age he was determined to live the American dream.
His road to life and self-discovery wasn’t easy but we are TABLE to feel his emotions through his writing. Captain Anthony was Douglass first master, in these early years he witnessed many unsightly beatings. On one of his first accounts he watched his aunt Hester get viciously beat and hipped, by an overseer by the name of Mr.. Plumper. Young Douglass is so terrified by this that he hides in a closet. Plumper was a cruel man that would get pleasure out of whipping the slaves. Douglass has known him to “cut and slash a women’s head so horribly, that even the master would be enraged at his cruelty’ (3).
This obstacle is the first of many that Douglass has to endure before he is a free man, these events shape Douglass and helps him find courage within himself. Douglass never really knew much of his mother either, she would sneak in at night and sleep with him and would be gone before sunrise. A person would think that these harsh circumstances that Douglass had to endure would make him a bitter, but it just made him more motivated to become free. When Frederick was around 8 years old he was sent to Baltimore to work for Hugh Laud.
He is very happy to leave because he feels as though it was never a place he called home. He also feels as though he has nothing to lose, he thinks that leaving is a sign of hope for him. When he first arrived in Baltimore he was treated with excessive kindness by High’s wife Sophia. Mrs.. Laud had never owned a slave. Sophia tried to teach Douglass how to read and write, but Hugh disliked this. Hugh said that it was “unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave how to read” (20). He also begins to tell Sophia that it would make a slave “discontented and unhappy” (20).
After hearing this Douglass now understands why they keep slaves ignorant. This did not stop Frederick, he was determined to have an education. He would have the neighborhood children help him learn. While he was doing work at the shipyard he copied the marks of the other workers to practice his writing. He purchased a newspaper by the name of The Columbian Orator, this not only improved his reading and writing skills but he also discovered he anti-slavery movements in the north. This new knowledge brought a new since of hope to Douglass.
Hugh stated that if “you give a Niger an inch, he will take an ell” (20), and that is just what Douglass did to come closer to the American dream. In 1 833 Captain Anthony perished, Douglass was returned to Maryland and became the property of Thomas Laud. Douglass and other slaves had to be evaluated during this time, like livestock. He remembers this as being demeaning, and he states that after this he “saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both the slave and the slave older” (27). Douglass is then sent to work for Edward Covey, he had a reputation for being a severe slave-breaker.
Covey beat Douglass many times without any sense of sorrow or any kind of justification to why he was beating Douglass, he just did it out of pure hate and cruelty. Douglass loses his spirit during this time while being enslaved to Covey. The harsh working conditions as well as the severe beatings put a strain on Douglass’ sense of hope. A turning point in Douglass life was when he decided to fight back when Mr.. Covey tried to beat him. Covey couldn’t break Frederick’s spirit, and for the iris time in his life he felt as though he was in control. He never received another beating from Covey after this.
This brings him even closer to escaping his life as a slave and pursuing the American dream. Up to this point Douglass was smothered by hopelessness and the brutalities of slavery, but his uprising against Covey gives him back his spirit and hope. Eventually Douglass was sent to live with Mr.. William Freehand. Douglass makes the point that Freehand is better than that of Mr.. Covey but he is hotheaded. Although, Douglass says that Mr.. Freehand is “the best master he ever had” (49), he was till determined be free, and desires freedom now more than ever.
Douglass succeeds in getting some of his fellow slaves interested in reading and writing. After this word spreads amongst the slaves and Douglass begins to hold a Sabbath school. This is very hazardous, educating the slaves in any way is forbidden. His burning desire to become a free man encouraged him to plan an escape with a few of his fellow slaves. This elaborate plan to escape was deceived by one of his fellow slaves. This is a minor setback in Frederick’s pursuit to freedom but does not hinder his hope in any way. After this incident Douglass is sent to work for William Gardener.
While working for Gardener in the shipyard four white men attack Douglass, this hinders his since of hope for the time being and he feels the American dream is out of his reach. Following this event Douglass is sent to work with Hugh Laud in his shipyard, here he is TABLE to earn a wage. Douglass has to turn over all of his money to Hugh, he compares Hugh to a “pirate” (59). It seems unfair to Douglass that he worked so hard for the money and he continuously has to hand it over to Hugh. Not long after he started working for Hugh Laud he was blew to finally escape with the help from others who he does not desire to speak of.
He never wanted to uncover his road to freedom because he wanted to give other slaves the chance to escape in the same way. It wasn’t easy for Frederick to settle into the free life, he discovered that hiding from slave owners was not easy at all. Eventually, he changed his name to Douglass after having many different names over the years. It was no easy process for Douglass to become a free man, and several things leading up to his escape could have left him hopeless, but in the end he fought through and became hat he always hoped he would.
Douglass encountered a series of set-back in his pursuit to become a free man. He overcame every obstacle, and found the courage to prevail. Learning to read and write early in his life was his gateway to obtaining the American dream. He didn’t let the horrors of slavery keep him down. His defiance and brilliance assisted him in his path to self- discovery.
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