Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass has been told his whole life who he was, what he was, and where he belonged. He was separated from his mother at a very young age. The family that he knew where his fellow slaves, and most of them were not his real family. He was led to believe that his father was his master, the man who would whip him and treat him as property and not as a son. Now a freeman he must become his own person. Frederick Douglass does not know if he likes chicken or beef, 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 it was time for him to become a freeman not only in the sense of the words but in his heart and soul. When he tried to escape the first time, and then was found out, he feared being left in the prison forever by himself. He feared being killed, for trying to obtain his freedom.
Frederick writes: “Immediately after the 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, out of jail, and carried them home, leaving me alone. I regarded this separation as a final one. It caused me more pain than any thing else in the whole transaction.
I was ready for anything rather than separation. ” (304) There we see that he feared being alone. Which tells us something about his character. He was ready for anything, except being left in jail and separated from his surrogate family. That is what these men were to him.
They lived together as a family, and living with another person or four other people you became aquatinted on a personal basis. They ate, slept, and breathed each other for a portion of their lives. When they decided to try to escape they were going to do it together. They trusted each other because each of their lives was in each persons hands. They had to be very careful of the mannerism in which they acted.
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 left Baltimore to make his freedom path to New York City, he was really alone. He did not even know himself. When he arrived in New York, and was a freeman he wrote home to a friend and tried to explain how he felt he said, “I felt like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions.” (314) Later on he says, he was feeling diminished and again he was lonely and insecure with his surroundings. He was afraid to be seized by the masters again.
So his wife and himself set off to find work and a home. How would they know when it was there home or when they would feel secure and at home? After arriving in New York, Mr. Ruggles told him that he needed to decide where he wanted to live. How did he expect a slave who has only been where he has been told to go, and Im sure did not know where he was 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 can make use of his trade, a chalkier. With a new wife, and only five dollars they head out to start a life as free people. Even now as a freeman someone else is deciding upon where they should go. He thought that he should go to Canada, but was urged against. Even though Mr.
Ruggles is helping them, maybe they should have gone to Canada. It was Fredericks suggestion, and it seems as though he was intrigued by that idea. Then he was urged otherwise and decided upon a safe place. The morning after Frederick and Anna arrived in New Bedford, he was told he would have to pick a name, for the reason that there were so many Johnson s in Bedford. So what, there must be a hundred Smiths and they dont have to change their names. Your name is a part of your identity, yet he is being told that he must do something.
He has not been asked whether or not he wants to change his name, he is being told. Even though we can probably understand the necessity for this evil, it is another commodity that has probably caused confusion for him. He talked about the people in Bedford comparing them to the people in the south. He said that he was disappointed with the appearance of things. He acquaints them at the same level with the non-slave holding population of the south. Namely, poor whites.
He expected them to be barbaric because they do not own slave and they do their work for themselves. In a way he is saying he expected the white people of the north to be unaccustomed and awkward at the outset of work. If that is all that he has known his whole life then he cannot be expected to know of any other ways. It is like giving a baby a set 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 to himself.
When he escaped and arrived in New York City, he had no idea what to expect. 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 was a turning point in his life. He makes his way down a path that holds his future or his death, he marries a woman whom is his “intended” wife who he hardly knows, and he heads out to Bedford to find a place where he can find out who he really is. Now, as discussed previously, the condition of the people and surroundings astonishes him, because he never saw “whites” carry on in this manner.
Or even allow they to live in such a manner. He also said “I found the colored people much more spirited than I had supposed they would be,”(319), so far everything that has been witnessed by Frederick Douglass has been not what he has expected. He talked of the gentleman who threatened a colored man to let his 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 have to live in fear that he would be kidnapped and returned, and he could live contently and happily. Even though this may take some getting used to, it was there right in front of him just waiting for him to grab it, and he did, when he took his life into his own hands just to be a freeman.
Something that millions of people take for granted every day in this society. After three days of being in 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, up until 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 of money that he made, his six or eight dollars, was turned over to a man who did not lift a finger to earn it.
From this moment on every penny that was handed to him went into his pocket. There were no more Saturdays of giving to someone else; he could now give to himself and his family. He became a man, in every sense of the word. Frederick Douglass was not going to receive any more whippings because his earnings for the week were not enough to satisfy some fat cat. Now that his money was his own and he did not have to answer to anyone as to 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 a way by writing this narrative he is expressing himself. He is letting the people who read this see that even though people can make excuses for slavery it is a form of imprisonment. These “masters” take the lives of other human beings and make them what they want them to be. They work them to the bone, do not feed them, poorly clothe them, allow them to live in conditions that most people would not let there dog be exposed to, and yet they think that this was ok.
If after reading the life of a slave, how could u even condone these actions? How could you sleep at night knowing that there were people out there who were being beaten if they, in the slightest manner, made a wrong move? Yes, they did have the abolitionists, but they only did so much. The “Underground Railroad” allowed for some safe passage to the north, but they needed the courage to leave everything behind. The slaves that were left behind were made an example out of so 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 we needed to read about the truth. America, which was supposed to be a free country, was only free to those who were not property. If you were a black man you had a collar with identification tags like the dogs or you were branded with the initials of your master and that was who you were.
You were not Frederick Douglass; you were the property of Captain Aaron Anthony or Mr. Hugh. In 1845 this 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 to people who were willing to listen to his message of freedom. It is ironic that he went to England, the land that America fought for freedom from.
Our forefathers 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 the color of there skin. The logic here is missing a beat. Everything that every American was striving for, we deprived these people of, something is just not right there.