BBL 3210 American Literature: Beginning to 1900BA English (exec) Trisem 9/2010
Question 2: Draw Discuss the power relations between the slave and his master in
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
. (10 marks)
The power relation between the slaves and his master in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is depicted through the action by the masters towards their slaves. Themasters didn’t allow their slaves to have any clue regarding their age nor origin and parents. Thisis to show that the slaves need to depend on their masters for whatever they wanted. The slavesare not allowed by their masters to be educated because they are not counted as a human beingthat possesses the nature of caring or having any feeling such as sad, happy or joy. The mastersalso reminds their slaves on not to learn anything but only follow their masters. Slaves are notallowed to think of reason nor logic for their master’s action. The slave owners keep their power on their slaves by whipping at anytime. For example as in Chapter 10, “A mere look, word or motion, a mistake, accident or want of power, are all matters for which a slave may be whipped…forget to pull off his hat at the approach of white person, speak loudly when spoken to hismaster”. They (slave owners) always find something of this sort to justify the use of their lashand they seldom failed to embrace such opportunities. The power of owning a slave and theabsence of anyone who will question how they treat their slaves are the advantages that theowner has towards the slaves. The slaves are brought up without knowing how to rebel is another advantage towards the owners so that the slaves will not rebel when whipped.
Prepared by:Sudheep Ramasamy ( B10127)