Frederick Douglass gives an account of his boyhood and young adulthood as a slave in Eastern Maryland. How does he describe the living conditions and treatment of slaves on Colonel Lloyd’s and Thomas Auld’s plantations?
He describes his personal stay at Colonel Lloyd’s plantation as having no special treatment from the rest of the slave children. They had a specific age when the children would start to work in the fields, which Frederick was below. Therefore, he began his work as light menial tasks for the master because he was under the age to take on harder work on the fields. He descries his earlier days as having a lot of free time to himself because he had little to do.
However, he could suffer from hunger and cold it seems that he suffered from the elements severely however, he did not perceive it as being harsh from his masters (Douglass, 30). He saw it as getting off easily when he was a child perhaps seeing ho w badly others that were older than him suffered in the fields. The slaves rarely had the basics to live. Their food was quite similar to what would normally be given to the animals. They had to wear tatters if they could scrounge for clothes. They were whipped for mistakes against their masters.
In short they did not have an existence fit for normal human beings and were treated a little highly than a farm animal if not the same.
After Douglass moves to Baltimore he writes, “a city slave is almost a freeman, compared with a slave on the plantation”. What does he mean by this? How did city life differ from that in the countryside?
As Douglass wrote this he must have related the events of life to this fact.
When he moved to Baltimore he records this as a very interesting moment of his life whereby he regards the circumstance of being removed from the plantation to Baltimore as a chance to be seated at his own chair of freedom. In short, the opportunity to go to Baltimore gave him a chance to explore more opportunities and opened his perspective. The city took away his ignorance and granted him the power and the skills to control his destiny. That is why he perceives the city life as having more exposure and removes ignorance other than the plantation life.
Why does Hugh Auld object to Douglass’ learning to read and why does literacy become so important to him?
Hugh objects to Douglass learning how to read and becoming literate because he foresees what might happen if that happens. He states that it is unlawful as well as dangerous to give the blacks a means to learn how to read or write. Out of his fear, he forbade Mrs. Auld to teach him any further reading skills his reasoning was that if the best ‘nigger’ in the world, who would be a slave were to be taught then they would not be the best ‘nigger’.
According to him, blacks were a vengeful evil force that would run out of order and become unmanageable if they were taught how the world worked. Thus, literacy becomes the only thing standing between the black race and the means to retain their independence over the white people. This could not happen as who left to work their fields at negligible labor be cost. Theoretically, this is the worst case scenario; the whites could think of, a fully fledged resistance from the black race that knows exactly what it wants is the last thing the whites wanted.
What fears did Douglass entertain in planning his escape and why did his first attempt fail?
The first attempt that Douglass tried to get away from his master was out of necessity. He had been beaten quite badly and was not feeling well at the time. He knew that if his master got custody of him again he might very well kill him or continue to torture him. His master delighted in making his life a living hell and was like his very own personal devil that would drag him back to hell when he found him again. However, his first attempt was extremely uncoordinated to say the least.
He tried to escape without having thinking through what his next moves would be after he was free of the grasp of his master. Here he made a decision from impulse whereby he had to save himself but the circumstance he would put himself would be jumping from the frying pan and into the fire. He wandered through the woods to a point that he realized that he was not getting anywhere. That is when he made the awful decision when faced by the two choices. This was to go home where he would face extreme punishment, or to starve to death in the woods. Almost both of the options meant certain death and in the end he had to go home.
What misassumptions did Douglass hold about the North on his arrival? How did it contrast with conditions in the South?
He thought that the north would offer a comforting escape from the south. There would be a hospitable environment that would offer a haven in comparison to the hell that he had gone through in the south upon his arrival at New York. In part he was right, it was different, and he had been left alone. He was free in retrospect and he experienced a feeling of being rescued from damnation.
However, this was not enough and there was no offer of security. Here, he would create his own destiny but he also realized that this was still going to be an upward task. There was no feeling of friendliness in New York. He was a stranger in a city full of strangers. There was no feeling of home were there were reassuring hands and faces to guide him to the path he sought. He was alone. He could be hurled back to the place he feared the most as a slave again.
Why does Douglass so dislike southern religion and religious slaveholders?
He views them basically as huge hypocrites claiming to use their religious base tom put the slave lower than he actually is. According to the reverend Hopkins, if a slave tried to suggest a different mode of doing things from his master then he was being presumptuous. If he forgot to remove his hat in front of a white person and show his reverence then he was wanting. If the slave broke a hoe or a farm implement while at work, he was plain careless.
The punishment for all of these transgressions was flogging most of the time. It seems that there was a solution for any transgression against the white community backed by the church. The blacks were likened to the devil and as such should be treated with hostility so that the devil is whipped out of them. It was this, Douglass disliked because other than show their true colors to be the bad people they were, and they hid behind the veil of piety and claimed to do their actions in the name of God.