Frederick Douglass wrote hisnarrative during a time when slavery was still legal in almost all parts of theUnited States. The purpose for publishing his life story was to educate othersand shed some light on what slavery was truly like from the inside and hisperspective as a slave who endured the hardships. Through this publication,Douglass hoped to gain support for the abolition of the horrific practice knownas slavery.
His life, written on paper in a simplistic language was intended tospeak to individuals in all parts of the United States and touch them in a waythat only a factual, first- hand account story on surviving slavery could. When his time with Mr. Covey hadcome to an end, Douglass’s desire and curiosity of freedom and running awaybecame more than just a fantasy.
As he moved between masters and homes he wasalways planning a perfect escape up North. After one failed attempt he succeededin reaching New York. He was first overwhelmed by the feeling of liberty butquickly realized the greater reality of his friends still living in slavery. He would not be completely satisfied with hisfreedom until all slavery was abolished. He became an abolitionist activist inorder to make a change for all those less fortunate than himself, for hisfriends back home who were still suffering the chains of slavery. As Douglass grew to become a young manhe felt it necessary to fight for freedom quite literally. Upon being sent to Mr.
Covey who had areputation of being the “slave breaker,” Douglass reverted back to being an obedientslave for some time. It would have seemed that Covey had successfully brokenhis spirits but not for long. Covey was a gruesome and relentless man whopunished Douglass unjustly. After his attempt to escape Covey he was forced toreturn as he was rightfully his property.
At this point Douglass felt he wouldmuch rather die than continue to endure the abuse as a slave. This was acrucial turning point because it gave him the spirit to continue to fight forhis liberty in confrontation with Covey. When he was due for his punishment ofnot following Covey’s orders and he tried to whip him, Douglass would not godown without a fight. After nearly two hours in a quarrel, Covey left him to beand did not lay a finger on him again (56).
His story continued when, at the ageof about seven Douglass left Colonel Lloyd’s plantation to work for new mastersin Baltimore. There, he was greeted by a much kinder set of owners. The master’swife taught him his letters and how to spell short and simple words. Upon doingso, his master strongly disapproved of educating slaves stating that if shecontinued to teach him to read “it would forever unfit him to be a slave. Hewould at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master” (32).Overhearing his masters words, Douglass indirectly learned a valuable lesson.
He learned that slavery did not exist because the white men were better, butmore so that they keep their slaves uneducated. He saw the power of educationand made it a point to gain knowledge and further his reading skills any way hecould. He believed that if he could educate himself, there would no longer be away to keep slaves from pursuing a life of freedom. Douglass was born in Tuckahoe,Maryland and like many slaves he had no knowledge of his date of birth or age (13).His recounts of his childhood on the plantation increase in severity. As ayoung child he did not get as serious punishments from his master such aswhippings unlike some of the other slaves.
He did however witness his mother’sdeath and was unable to attend her funeral (14). He witnessed his aunt getbeaten (16), and watched one of his overseers kill a man who a shot to the face(26). These events, while not physical punishment, were moments of emotionalpunishment that led Douglass to further understand the punishment of slavery asa whole. The “Narrative of the Life of FrederickDouglass” is written from his perspective illustrating his life and journeyfrom a man living in slavery to his days as a free man.3.3Book Report