Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Questions and Answers
by Frederick Douglass

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In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, how is the white man a victim of slavery as well, according to Douglass?

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Douglass argues that slavery is such a fundamentally evil institution that it corrupts all who are associated with it, including whites. The best example of this that he gives in the Narrative is that of Sophia Auld, the wife of Hugh Auld, his master during much of his time in Baltimore. When he arrived at their home, Mrs. Auld was tenderhearted, possessed with the kind of morality that drove her to treat Douglass in particular with kindness. This is manifested in her successful attempts to teach young Douglass to read. When Mr. Auld discovers that she has taught him to read, he is angry, and he tells her that literacy will make a bad slave of the child. Sophia Auld had never had a slave under her supervision before, a fact that Douglass sees as the source of her kindness. Later, though, Mrs. Auld begins to change. She began to behave with as much contempt for her slaves as her husband. Under the influence of slavery, Douglass says, "her tender heart had become stone." He concludes that...

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