A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass

1292 Words 6 Pages
Possibility of a Better Life Imagine waking up before the sun rises feeling sore and unrested. You pull yourself together and start your daily duties with just seconds to spare before your master realizes you are late. As you begin your chores you cringe when you hear the crack of a whip followed by a sharp, painful scream from a fellow slave. You quickly distract yourself from wondering if there was a reason for the abuse or if it was "just because". The daily monotonous routine is taking its toll on your body as you stumble and accidentally break your master's tool. Overcome with fear you hide your mistake and continue your job. Hours later, still regretting your error you feel a hard blow to the back of your legs. Turning around you …show more content…
Eating a full meal was a concept that was unknown to some slaves. Competing with the pigs for food was the only way to stay alive (Prince 2002, 366). Among the many reasons slaves were purchased was to serve as a breeder. For a slave owner to increase his wealth he would buy a woman slave and get her pregnant (Douglass 2002, 387). Any children a slave woman would have would become slaves. Their lives would be immediately filled with fear and loneliness.
The harsh treatment of slaves is sickening but the cruelest of masters somehow found a way to justify themselves. Religious slaveholders were among the worst, quoting and using the bible as "a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest and most infernal deeds…find the strongest protection" (Douglass 2002, 398, 381). Whipping and beating slaves for no reason at all was common to inflict fear and discourage any future uprisings (Douglass 2002, 399). Satisfying a master was sometimes impossible to do. Beatings would occur to serve as an example for the others slaves to obey their masters in every circumstance even if the victims of the floggings had done nothing. A slave's explanation was absolutely not allowed. No matter how innocent a slave might be "it is better that a dozen slaves suffer under the lash, than that the overseer should be convicted, in the presences of the slaves, of having been at fault" and a master kept to that maxim (Douglass 2002, 355).
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