Frederick Douglass was born a slave but through luck and perhaps divine intervention was allowed to live a life far different than his brethren. The tone of the book is that of a free man, instead of saying he was sold or sent to new masters he uses the euphemism “went to live with…” as if he were free in his own mind although he was still under the control of another. The overall theme of the book is neatly stated in the introduction “…its thematic strategy of linking freedom and literacy.” The book describes in detail the horrors of slavery and his increasing desire to be free as he taught himself to read and write and by reading such books as “The Columbian Orator”.
To make a person a slave there are several things that must be done that Douglass sees happening to maintain the slaves. One is to make the slaves think of freedom as terrible. Another is to keep the slaves too busy and helpless to even think about the inappropriateness of their condition. Lastly, making slavery seem right to the slaves is beneficial so there is no feeling of rebellion.
Seeing freedom as terrible is something that we in America the land of the free have difficulty comprehending since our society hinges upon it. But in the case of slavery when the masters gave some freedom for special holidays, they made sure that the slaves abused themselves with their freedom to condition the slave into thinking that being on their own was not a good idea since bad things happened when they were given some liberty. For example, the masters would ensure that plenty of drinking took place to facilitate harmful behavior.
The helpless condition was deepened by many of the slaves not having the spirit to think about their condition and what was wrong with it. Douglass had a similar experience himself. Even though he had learned how to read and had read inspirational books on the evils of slavery, there was a time when he was sent to an especially cruel m...