In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, what are three separate ideas Douglass presents about how slavery was bad for the Africans?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter Eight is a very good chapter to re-read in order to find a number of different ways in which slavery is presented as being harmful to the African slaves that are treated as being not human at all through the way their white masters behave towards them. Chapter Eight describes how Frederick's first master died and then how he and all the other slaves had to be valued. Note how he describes this process:

There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being, and were all subjected to the same narrow examination.

Slaves are presented as being nothing more than a commercial product, a possession, who at the end of the day are no more important than other possessions against which a value can be placed, such as livestock.

Secondly, this chapter presents the way that slaves have no rights to stay together as a family. After the valuing, came the division, where brother could be separated from brother, and husband from wife and mother from children. Slaves had no rights to stay together and could be separated if they were sold. Lastly, consider the fate of so many slaves. If they are sold, they have no idea who will be their new master, and how badly they will be treated. As they are separated they face something of a Russian roulette as they may find themselves considerably worse off than before, with a master who will punish and beat them more than their previous master. For all of these reasons, Douglass presents slavery as being bad for the slaves themselves.

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