The most salient issues addressed in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass are those of dehumanization, education, and slavery’s effect on both slave and slaveholders’ morality. These issues are amplified through Douglass’s use of rhetorical devices and stories of his first-hand experiences as a slave. The Great Chain of Being, a hierarchy of races with whites on top and Africans on the bottom, was used to justify the many horrors that slaves were faced with.Douglass’ intellectual approach to composing his narrative allowed him to challenge The Great Chain of Being and prove to his audience that African Americans can achieve success and slavery is unjust.
The most prominent issue of Douglass’ narrative is the dehumanization of slaves. Slaveholders’ main tactics of dehumanization were keeping the slaves ignorant and punishing them through verbal and physical violence.All slaves were not lawfully considered human, but instead as property or animals. Running away from ones master was essentially classified as stealing oneself; therefore there were severe consequences for attempting to escape.While slaves were treated like property, they began to believe that they truly were property.Douglass mentions how they would often argue about whose master was kinder, although none of them were kind at all. This depicts how distant slaves were from reality and human emotion while they spoke so highly of those who oppressed them. Douglass was sent to master Covey, who beat him weekly for his apparent awkwardness and disobedience. He expresses that he became suicidal during this time due to the torture and belittlement from his master. Masters used abuse to make slaves feel less than human and lose their desire for freedom. The many tactics of dehumanization had successfully convinced slaves that they were an inferior race.
From the moment they were born, slaves were dehumanized with the separation from their family. Dou…