.. . Thus the desire for freedom was exited by his understanding of the whole and its functions. When Douglass was a plantation slave, he knew little of these facts and thus had no desire to escape, but as Douglass was gaining intellect he was breaking the chains of his enslavement. Along the way to gaining intellect, Douglass faced many obstacles, many of which were brought about by slaveholders, which brought him to his deepest despair in life. Mr.
Covey is an excellent example of a slaveholder who would do everything in his power to prevent his slaves from thinking of freedom. His method was to work his slaves so hard that their spirit and aspirations were detached from them, seeming more like dreams than reality. The description of Douglass emotional state shows the tortured mind of the slave in a life of despair, Sunday was my only leisure time. I spent this in sort of a beast like stupor I sank down again, mourning over my wretched condition. I was sometimes prompted to take my life, and that of Covey, but was prevented by a combination of hope and fear. My sufferings on this plantation seem now like a dream rather than a stern reality (Douglass 73).
The efforts of the whites to keep their slaves suppressed were so strong that even Douglass knowledge could barely keep him fighting. At times he even regretted knowing the things, which he had learned, for it made him all the more miserable for being a slave and knowing that there were others who did not share in his agony. Douglass says, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing (Douglass 53). Douglass speaks of this because the knowledge of freedom makes it more difficult to endure the suffering of slavery. He knows what it is like to experience something of a good treatment, and he is educated enough to realize that it is something entirely different to be free. Christianity also played a role in the way Douglass struggled with his existence and how he viewed the southern slaveholders that were so called Christians. Douglass would cry out, O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! Let me be Free! Is there any God? (Douglass 74). Douglass started to see a pattern with his masters, in which the more religious, the more brutal their actions became.
Douglass says, I believe him (Mr. Covey) to have been a much worse man after his conversion than before (Douglass 65). Sarah M. Grimke further backs up this notion in the antebellum chapter of Gorn Document 3 by saying, In Christian America the slave has no refuge from unbridled cruelty and lust (Gorn 212). How could a man call himself a Christian and still act out so much hate on an individual was a question that would come up often in the discussions of Christianity when viewed with slavery. Sarah M.
Grimke writes in Gorn Document 3, gratify the brutal lust of those who bear the name of Christians (Gorn 212). This shows that the slaves were not the only individuals that saw the wrongful placement of the word Christian on the shoulders of the southern men. Once in the north, Douglass saw that the souths religion was not that of the truth, and is nothing more than a false testimony that was used to make the southerners look as though they were in the right. A good example of this is how Mr. Covey would recite scripture while beating a slave, Douglass says, he would quote this passage of scripture He that knoweth his masters will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many strips (Douglass 66).
Douglass backs this up further when writing a letter to Mr. Auld in Gorn Document 5, which says, They (North) have little respect for your honesty, and less for you religion (Gorn 241). Douglass further supports this by saying, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes, a justifier of the most appalling barbarity (Douglass 84). The religion in which Douglass grew up knowing and hearing from the southern men was not that of the true religion of God, but that of hate. Douglass small steps toward freedom included more than just physical battles against the whites. He shows that to become free, involves more than simply running north, but the road to freedom, is instead, shown to be a power struggle and a long draining intellectual process of learning and maturing.
One can see that Douglass determination to be free was a result of gaining knowledge. In a world where the haves sit on knowledge, language was power, and language was Douglass first key to freedom, then his armor, and finally his sword. He turned on his oppressors and raised it against them, and his words became a healing balm and a fixer of wrongs of slavery. Douglass sums this up great when writing a letter to Mr. Auld in Gorn Document 5 by saying, I intend to make use of you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery-as a means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deepening their horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of me make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the American church and clergy-and as a means of bringing this guilty nation with yourself to repentance (Gorn 242). We also see how the women in antebellum America shared the views of the black slaves, in seeing that it was inhumane to treat another human in such a brutal way.
These women and the run away slaves such as Douglass helped to start the anti-slave movement in North America, and started to challenge the southern religion. Throughout the book, we saw Douglass go through several life changes, from slavery to freedom, from the south to the North, from a young man of many names to the adult named Frederick Douglass, thus in the end, this gifted man helped America come to terms with slavery as it really was. History Reports.