Douglass describes life on the plantation as harsh and violent. He compares it unfavorably to being a slave in a city. When he was a slave in Baltimore, he noted that the proximity of homes to one another made it less likely that the owners would be too abusive. He also had a chance, while running errands in the city, to mingle with free people.
The plantation, however, was horrific. He describes being traumatized as a child the first time he saw his aunt beaten by their master, Colonel Lloyd. He says the following of Lloyd's frequent beatings of her:
He was a cruel man, hardened by a long life of slaveholding. He would at times seem to take great pleasure in whipping a slave. I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood.
He also states that the comforting testimony of slaves, when questioned by whites, that their owners are good to them is a lie. He tells the story of a slave who had never met his master, Colonel Lloyd, but who was questioned by a white man about how the plantation slaves were treated. The slave answered honestly that they were treated badly. The white man turned out to be Lloyd. The slave was sold south to Georgia to set an example to the other slaves not to complain.
Overall, Douglass remembers the time on the plantation as frightening and unhappy. Slaves lived in very poor conditions. For example, young children had almost no clothing:
the children unable to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets, nor trousers, given to them; their clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year. When these failed them, they went naked . . .