“I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night. She was hired by a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve miles from my home. She made her journeys to see me in the night, travelling the whole distance on foot, after the performance of her day's work. She was a field hand, and a whipping is the penalty of not being in the field at sunrise, unless a slave has special permission from his or her master to the contrary--a permission which they seldom get, and one that gives to him that gives it the proud name of being a kind master. I do not recollect of ever seeing my mother by the light of day. She was with me in the night. She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone. Very little communication ever took place between us. Death soon ended what little we could have while she lived, and with it her hardships and suffering. She died when I was about seven years old, on one of my master's farms, near Lee's Mill. I was not allowed to be present during her illness, at her death, or burial. She was gone long before I knew anything about it. Never having enjoyed, to any considerable extent, her soothing presence, her tender and watchful care, I received the tidings of her death with much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger.”
Douglass speaks to his audience by using imagery, and metaphor, to express slavery’s brutalizing effects. In this passage, Douglass’ tone is infuriated. His tone in the passage portrays how he was very distant from his mother, who worked all day at a different farm, and had little to no contact with each other, although she put him to sleep at night. Imagery is expressed when Douglass wrote soothing presence, and tender and watchful care. Douglass compares his hollow, almost non-existent relationship with his mother to a very stereotypical mother-child relationship. By doing this, Douglass is saying that slavery seized the opportunity of slaves to even imagine what a family was like. Douglass ends with a metaphor that juxtaposes his reaction to his mother death to a death of a stranger. Douglass’ use of metaphor juxtaposes how Douglass and his mother had, basically, no relationship at all. Through this, Douglass describes how slavery can prevent families from caring and loving one another, to the extent of not caring of a family member’s death. The relationship was so empty and void, that he was apathetic, and careless, of his mother’s death. He felt no room for crying because he barely knew his mother. Here Douglass shows that slavery not only separates families, but it also forbids people from having families to begin with. In conclusion, through Douglass’ use of imagery, juxtaposition, and metaphor, he successfully expresses how slavery can be brutalizing to families.
Chapter 7 Page 81-82
“My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender-hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she commenced, when I first went to live with her, to treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a slaveholder, she did not seem to perceive that I sustained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and that for her to treat me as a human being was not only wrong, but dangerously so. Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman. There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness. The first step in her downward course was in her ceasing to instruct me. She now commenced to practice her…