In the Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass what is the overall impression of his childhood on the plantation?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The overall impression one gets is cruelty.  Douglass goes to lengths to describe how his childhood was defined by the overall cruelty of the master.  In the opening chapter, Douglass describes how slaves are whipped and beaten for disobeying the master, like Aunt Hester.  The overall impression that continues on is that slave masters and plantation managers enjoyed using violence and savagery as a means of controlling slaves and ensuring that obedience of slaves was maintained through subjugation and repression.  The use of whippings, beatings, and being subject to extremely horrific conditions allows one to fully grasp Douglass' contention that slavery was a way of life that could not sustain itself and its own demise was evident.  At some level, the cruelty that it offered compelled Douglass to believe that it will suffocate itself out of existence.

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