Escaping Oppression on Multiple Fronts:.
How Frederick Douglass Escapes Physical & Intellectual Limitations.
Slaveholders employ an abundance of methods to keep slaves enslaved. Many of these methods are categorized by either being physical or intellectual. The intellectual restrictions are developed as a means of justifying slavery to the slaves and slavemasters. By not allowing slaves to read, slavemasters could be the only source of information as to what is contained in books, such as the bible. With physical restrictions in place as well, slaves had very little options. Frederick Douglass breaks though these limitations by learning how to read, and discovers that he is not the inferior person that he was raised to be by reading the bible. He sees how he has the capability to be free, and escapes to freedom. To achieve freedom, a slave must overcome the physical dominations and intellectual limitations of slavery, which can only be realized though literacy. .
Slaveholders build a difference between themselves and slaves that would justify the institution of slavery. In the autobiography "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," Douglass begins by stating how he has "no accurate knowledge of [his] age, never having seen any authentic record containing it (p47)". Not knowing ones age is not restricted to Douglass, for he observes that "the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant(p47). The reference to horses implies that slaveholders believe that slaves are like animals, and should be treated as such. This belief reinforced further by the interpretation that the slaveholder takes on the bible, thinking that the bible condemns black people to a life as slaves. Black people have no choice but to believe their masters, for they end up with no knowledgable person around to tell them otherwise.