Throughout the course of history, slavery is a topic that is often touched upon. More often than not, we read of the physical struggles of a slave rather than the mental and spiritual struggles in books. Throughout Douglass" narrative we learn about his experiences both during and after slavery. The reader is able to view these actions mentally and physically by the way Douglass writes. Douglass depicts many graphic images of abused slaves which are meant to provoke pain and anger in the reader. He is also concerned with the disagreement that slaves are human beings and the fact that slave owners treat them as material goods. In "Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass" (1845) Fredrick Douglass portrays slavery as an institution that dehumanizes and deprives slaves of knowledge in order to show readers the cruelty, ignorance, and restraints of slavery. .
Throughout the narrative it is shown that slaveholders and overseers complete slavery by depriving the slaves of knowledge. Douglass writes, "I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it" (Douglass 15). Keeping information away from slaves strips them of their individuality. During the time period of which the narrative was written it was believed that colored people were not capable of playing a part in society. Slaves are prevented from learning to read and write because it gives them a certain capability and knowledge that the slave owners refuse them to have. If slaves remain illiterate their version of the story of slavery cannot be told and the slave owners have control over the nation's knowledge of slavery.
In order for the slaves to pursue freedom they must gain knowledge and education. By depriving the slaves of this quality the owners are able to keep the men and women longer. During Douglass" stay with the Auld family he was taught how to read and write. He also learned that education is what "ruins" slaves because Hugh Auld forbids his wife to educate Douglass.