Autobiographical Work Narrative Of The Life Of Book Report

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¶ … autobiographical work Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is a book which illustrates the many difficulties of slave life in the United States of America. The book tells of Douglass's horrific upbringing as a slave and his subsequent freedom. Being a former slave, Douglass has the authority to write his autobiography which encompasses his youth, upbringing, and adulthood after leaving slavery. His purpose is to use legitimate arguments which showcase how slavery as an institution is wrong. Throughout the book, Douglass makes parallels between his own plight and that of the other slaves in his position with the stories of Biblical times and all peoples who would suffer at the hands of their oppressors. Of the major themes discussed in the narrative are the horrors of slavery and also the hypocrisy of Christian people who claimed to be religious but were not opposed to using and abusing their fellow human beings. One of the ways that slaveholders justified their ability to keep humans in bondage was by using the story of Ham. According to this legend, God cursed Ham and all of his descendants by marking them. Slave owners said that Africans were descendents of Ham and determined that their enslavement was permissible by God. Douglass criticizes this reasoning, partly because his father is white. If he is not descended from Ham on both sides, then why should he be cast with their lot as a whole? "If the lineal descendants of Ham are alone...

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The very beginning of the story deals with the hypocrisy of those who use religion to prove that they have the right to oppress others.
Later in life, Frederick Douglass was sent to new masters in the state of Maryland. Douglass's owner converted to the Methodist Church after attending a camp meeting. Up until this point, Douglass life with this set of masters had been markedly cruel and violent. They were not adverse to beatings and other acts of inhumanity. Frederick Douglass held hopes that a renewed faith would change his master's disposition and prohibit further acts of degradation. On the contrary, his new-found religion led the master to become even more hedonistic. "Prior to his conversion, he relied upon his own depravity to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity; but after his conversion, he found religious sanction and support for his slaveholding cruelty" (Douglass 2008,-page 62). The master prayed all day and made himself into a pillar of the religious community and then committed acts of unspeakable cruelty. On one such occasion, "I have seen him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with a heavy cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing the warm red blood…

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Works Cited:

Douglass, Frederick. (2008). Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Forgotten Books.


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