Frederick Douglass has been told his whole life who he was, what he was, andwhere he belonged. He was separated from his mother at a very young age. Thefamily that he knew where his fellow slaves, and most of them were not his realfamily. He was led to believe that his father was his master, the man who wouldwhip him and treat him as property and not as a son. Now a freeman he mustbecome his own person. Frederick Douglass does not know if he likes chicken orbeef, in a sense. His whole life he was never been given the choice of anything.
He was told that he would eat chicken, and he probably never tasted beef. Now itwas time for him to become a freeman not only in the sense of the words but inhis heart and soul. When he tried to escape the first time, and then was foundout, he feared being left in the prison forever by himself. He feared beingkilled, for trying to obtain his freedom. Frederick writes: Immediately afterthe holidays were over, contrary to all our expectations, Mr. Hamilton and Mr.
Freeland came up to Easton, and took Charles, the two Henrys, and John, outof jail, and carried them home, leaving me alone. I regarded this separation asa final one. It caused me more pain than any thing else in the wholetransaction. I was ready for anything rather than separation. (304) There wesee that he feared being alone. Which tells us something about his character. Hewas ready for anything, except being left in jail and separated from hissurrogate family. That is what these men were to him. They lived together as afamily, and living with another person or four other people you becameaquatinted on a personal basis. They ate, slept, and breathed each other for aportion of their lives. When they decided to try to escape they were going to doit together. They trusted each other because each of their lives was in eachpersons hands. They had to be very careful of the mannerism in which theyacted. The slightest wrong move or expression would send suspicion upon them,and cause a whipping or the fear that they might be killed. When he leftBaltimore to make his freedom path to New York City, he was really alone. He didnot even know himself. When he arrived in New York, and was a freeman he wrotehome to a friend and tried to explain how he felt he said, I felt like onewho had escaped a den of hungry lions. (314) Later on he says, he was feelingdiminished and again he was lonely and insecure with his surroundings. He wasafraid to be seized by the masters again. So his wife and himself set off tofind work and a home. How would they know when it was there home or when theywould feel secure and at home? After arriving in New York, Mr. Ruggles told himthat he needed to decide where he wanted to live. How did he expect a slave whohas only been where he has been told to go, and Im sure did not know where hewas half the time to make a decision on where he wanted to make home. However,he makes a wise decision, he tells Mr. Ruggles that he wants to go where he canmake use of his trade, a chalkier. With a new wife, and only five dollars theyhead out to start a life as free people. Even now as a freeman someone else isdeciding upon where they should go. He thought that he should go to Canada, butwas urged against. Even though Mr. Ruggles is helping them, maybe they shouldhave gone to Canada. It was Fredericks suggestion, and it seems as though hewas intrigued by that idea. Then he was urged otherwise and decided upon a safeplace. The morning after Frederick and Anna arrived in New Bedford, he was toldhe would have to pick a name, for the reason that there were so many Johnsons in Bedford. So what, there must be a hundred Smiths and they dont haveto change their names. Your name is a part of your identity, yet he is beingtold that he must do something. He has not been asked whether or not he wants tochange his name, he is being told. Even though we can probably understand thenecessity for this evil, it is another commodity that has probably causedconfusion for him. He talked about the people in Bedford comparing them to thepeople in the south. He said that he was disappointed with the appearance ofthings. He acquaints them at the same level with the non-slave holdingpopulation of the south. Namely, poor whites. He expected them to be barbaricbecause they do not own slave and they do their work for themselves. In a way heis saying he expected the white people of the north to be unaccustomed andawkward at the outset of work. If that is all that he has known his whole lifethen he cannot be expected to know of any other ways. It is like giving a baby aset of utensils and expecting him or her to know exactly what to do with them.
He has been place in this setting that is as unfamiliar to him as he is tohimself. When he escaped and arrived in New York City, he had no idea what toexpect. Ultimately, he was scared that as soon as he would arrive in the city,he would be capture and returned to his life of imprisonment. The year 1838 wasa turning point in his life. He makes his way down a path that holds his futureor his death, he marries a woman whom is his intended wife who he hardlyknows, and he heads out to Bedford to find a place where he can find out who hereally is. Now, as discussed previously, the condition of the people andsurroundings astonishes him, because he never saw whites carry on in thismanner. Or even allow they to live in such a manner. He also said I found thecolored people much more spirited than I had supposed they would be,(319), sofar everything that has been witnessed by Frederick Douglass has been not whathe has expected. He talked of the gentleman who threatened a colored man to lethis master know of his where about, However that notion was shortly thrown out,upon the threat upon the informants life. Here Frederick Douglass did not haveto live in fear that he would be kidnapped and returned, and he could livecontently and happily. Even though this may take some getting used to, it wasthere right in front of him just waiting for him to grab it, and he did, when hetook his life into his own hands just to be a freeman. Something that millionsof people take for granted every day in this society. After three days of beingin Bedford, Frederick Douglass found work in oil, but it did not matter. Now,all the money he made was his. From the start of his life in the work force, upuntil now, he worked so people, who do not know what hard work is, could live.
Every Saturday he would march himself to his masters door, and the little bit ofmoney that he made, his six or eight dollars, was turned over to a man who didnot lift a finger to earn it. From this moment on every penny that was handed tohim went into his pocket. There were no more Saturdays of giving to someoneelse; he could now give to himself and his family. He became a man, in everysense of the word. Frederick Douglass was not going to receive any morewhippings because his earnings for the week were not enough to satisfy some fatcat. Now that his money was his own and he did not have to answer to anyone asto where he wanted to go, it is now time for him to find out who he really is.
When it comes to dinner would he rather have that chicken or beef? Maybe, in away by writing this narrative he is expressing himself. He is letting the peoplewho read this see that even though people can make excuses for slavery it is aform of imprisonment. These masters take the lives of other human beingsand make them what they want them to be. They work them to the bone, do not feedthem, poorly clothe them, allow them to live in conditions that most peoplewould not let there dog be exposed to, and yet they think that this was ok. Ifafter reading the life of a slave, how could u even condone these actions? Howcould you sleep at night knowing that there were people out there who were beingbeaten if they, in the slightest manner, made a wrong move? Yes, they did havethe abolitionists, but they only did so much. The Underground Railroadallowed for some safe passage to the north, but they needed the courage to leaveeverything behind. The slaves that were left behind were made an example out ofso they could scare the others into not running away for a better life.
Frederick Douglass was not scared anymore; he made it perfectly clear that weneeded to read about the truth. America, which was supposed to be a freecountry, was only free to those who were not property. If you were a black manyou had a collar with identification tags like the dogs or you were branded withthe initials of your master and that was who you were. You were not FrederickDouglass; you were the property of Captain Aaron Anthony or Mr. Hugh. In 1845this narrative was published, and he first visited Europe, England, why there,why not right here where the problem was. He had to go across an ocean to get topeople who were willing to listen to his message of freedom. It is ironic thathe went to England, the land that America fought for freedom from. Ourforefathers wanted a better life for us, they wanted us to have life, liberty,and happiness, and here we are depriving thousands of people that because of thecolor of there skin. The logic here is missing a beat. Everything that everyAmerican was striving for, we deprived these people of, something is just notright there.