Black and white illustration of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass
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How did Frederick Douglass and the slaves suffer mental and physical abuse in Douglass' narrative?

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Douglass depicts both mental and physical abuse perpetuated by slave overseers. For example, as a young child, Douglass observes an overseer whipping his aunt because the overseer fancies her and is jealous that she has a boyfriend.

Later, Douglass himself experiences both physical and emotional abuse. Covey, his overseer, has a reputation for breaking slaves. Douglass, working as a field hand, describes his treatment at Covey's hands:

I had been at my new home but one week before Mr. Covey gave me a very severe whipping, cutting my back, causing the blood to run, and raising ridges on my flesh as large as my little finger.

In addition perpetuating physical abuse, Covey aims to convince his slaves that they are not human. Douglass details his efforts to prove to Covey that he is a man. When Douglass's fellow slave gives him a root to protect him, Douglass derives enough emotional strength from this symbol of power to fight back against Covey. After this incident, Covey does not threaten...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 663 words.)

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