Narrative of the Life of Term Paper

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Yet even when Douglass is the slave of a good white woman who treats him well physically by satisfying his bodily appetite for food and he is "better off in the regard" that he always has bread with him, unlike "many of the poor white children in the neighborhood," he does not regard himself as a happy child and envies the free white boys. In fact, "I used to bestow upon the hungry littler urchins," this bread of slavery, for the poor white boys, "in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge."(1898, Chapter IIV)

Beasts can eat, but only human beings can think and learn. After Douglass gains literary knowledge, "I envied by fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. (1899, Chapter IIV)

But slaves true higher nature that they possess as human beings are broken like horses are broken, and reduced to such an animal-like status, while cruel overseers gain reputations for breaking slaves like horse breakers gain reputations for their prowess over animal charges. But while the former is necessary, the latter is barbaric, and born of human laziness. "Mr. Covey was a poor man, a farm-renter...Mr. Covey had acquired a very high reputation for breaking young slaves, and this reputation was of immense value to him. It enabled him to get his farm tilled with much less expense to himself." (1906) Covey is subhuman in his cunning to the point where he reduces himself to animal metaphors; "such was his cunning, that we used to call him, amongst ourselves 'the snake,' (19060

The snake is of course, in the Garden of Eden, the tempting creature that causes Man to fall from Eden. By breaking slaves, Mr. Covey makes himself into such a devilish creature.
The stress upon the Biblical metaphor of the snake also highlights the religious nature the author gives to his struggle for freedom. Later on, in his description of Covey, Douglass portrays the man as hunting down slaves upon his horse in an attempt to emulate St. Michael, but coiling like a serpent in wait, when tracking slaves. (1908) Slavery is thus degrading to the whites that enforce the institution as well as the blacks that suffer it.

Thus when Douglass spends his Sunday, his only day of rest, the Lord's Day, in a "beast like stupor" he means that he has been deprived of his true Christian nature. Douglass uses animals as a contrast between what he has been reduced to, a beastlike servitude, with the Biblical aspiration of having a free will and a soul. Thus, working with animals with a slave does not inspire him with fellow feeling, rather his imagery is riddled with the knowledge that he is not a beast, yet is forced to seem like one because of the treatment of those around him, and the institution of slavery that corrupts black and white souls alike.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of the Life of an American Slave." From the Norton Anthology of American Literature. Volume 1. New York: W.W.….....

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