Frederick Douglass

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Why might a slaveholder fathering a child result in tougher treatment for that child?

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I think that Douglass' primary motivation in pointing this point of view about the slaveholder's child is to reflect the psychological destruction that is so intrinsic to slavery.  Douglass shows slavery to be both bad and psychologically damaging to everyone.  On one hand, the child who has a slaveowner father, yet is a slave is one who suffers intense psychological trauma.  Their lives are in bondage, yet they were brought into this world by one parent who is not a slave.  This creates a divided consciousness, which, on many levels, is destructive to one's psyche.  Douglass points this out in bringing out more opposition to the nature of slavery as one that yields destruction and suffering on a personal level, something not as readily evident by the outsider.  Additionally, Douglass brings out the psychological confusion of the master.  Douglass illuminates how emotionally discombobulated and fragmented the slaveowner is.  On one hand, they fathered a child out of their own choice.  Yet, their own self- hatred is what compels them to mistreat this child and treat them even worse.  In this, the slave owners are shown to be as psychologically fragmented, if not more, than the slave.

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