Fredrick Douglas-Book Report Essay, Research Paper
This book opens the eyes of the reader to the real life that the slaves experienced, although it does not give a fully accurate description. It causes the reader to marvel at the simplicity, yet complexity of the life of an American slave. All of the below are used to give an analysis over the books views, and don t necessarily reflect my personal views.
The book opens describing an almost blurring view of Douglas past. It tells of his family s separation, and how life on the farm was not based on families, but on groups that could come and go with the blink of an eye. This is different than the views that are often given. Life as a slave was different than one may think, slaveholders felt that the slaves needed to be kept in line, and shouldn t be given even a slight opportunity to have personal feelings or ideas. The slaves were almost considered like machines. Even, perhaps, the entire slave population was considered like one big machine. Separate components may be replaced and may perform different functions, but it didn t matter exactly who performed a task, just as long as it was finished. The break in this ideology is when Douglas is sent to work for a relative and then yet another relative. However, as soon as his original master dies, Douglas is required back on the ranch for a property tally. Soon, Douglas is required to work in the fields for the first time in his life. This is a shocking difference from what one may expect. The normal thought of somebody who had not studied is that slaves didn t have special opportunities, and would work in the fields for their entire life. He (Douglas) was sent to somebody to be broken in , just like a boot. During this processes, a slave would get beat more than they had ever been before, and would have to learn how to do the necessary work. After this, Douglas was shipped from farm to farm, for a year or two at a time. Again, yet another difference in the common conceptions of slavery. The common conception is that slaves tended to either belong to a master, or were sold to a new one, however, slaves were actually rented for a year, and often never, or hardly ever, saw their real masters. The last part of the book was the one that shocked me the most. Douglas actually worked at a professional type job, and even went as far as an independent contractor, supervised by his master. This was completely different than the common conception of slavery, where slaves are seen only as farm hands, not as sources of money. This book can entirely change one s views on slavery.
The Narrative is as close to a factual recount as is possible when written by a former slave. It may have a few glimpses of swayed opinion, but that is to be expected when it is written by an ex-slave. It also is much more accurate than some of the more popular works, such as Uncle Tom s Cabin or other essays and books. Douglas gives a radical view, for his time, however, now, his opinions are more generally accepted presently.
A situation like that in the north and the south is only worsened by a work like this, but it also brings a new focus to the happenings of slavery, and puts many swaying opinions in perspective. Both sides don t begin appreciating this book, it eases the strings on slavery in the perspective of the north, but in the south, it is still inflammatory. If this book had been written earlier, it might have helped ease tension in between the north and south, however, when it came out it hurt more than it helped.