There was nothing wrong in killing slaves, if anything they “deserved” it. It was even profitable. If slaves tried to escape, some white people would pretend to help them, in order to catch them. Therefore, slaves had to be careful when running away. “It was worth half-cent to kill a nigger, and half-cent to bury one. ” according to Douglass. (25) Murder of slaves went unnoticed, and didn’t go under jurisdiction. It is indeed illegal to murder a human, as well as animals today. You would be either imprisoned or put to death. Slaves were degraded as dirt. Animal cruelty was a worse crime.
If a slave even breathed in the wrong manner, their keeper’s could just shoot them on the spot. When Douglass was still a child, probably naive in slave whipping, saw his Aunt Hester being whipped for the first time, clothes off, up on a hook, blood dripping from her body. “I was so terrified and horror-stricken at the site, that I hid myself in a closet, and dared not venture out till long after the bloody transaction was over. I expected it would be my turn next. ” (15) Douglass described when he lived on the Great house farm, the conditions in which he lived.
He explains that everyone laid on the same bed, or the floor, and he had to steal a corn bag to keep warm because it was so cold. (Chapter 2, page 17) Slaves also worked to produce food for their holders, if they ever decided to eat the food they grow, it would be considered stealing, and they would be whipped. Is it really stealing when you rightfully grew it? Is it wrong is you’re starving? The children would run around naked, and all eat from a pig trough. As time progresses Douglass moves to a different plantation to live with Sophia Auld. She tries to teach Douglass to read and write, but the slave master encouraged her not to.
He says “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. ”(29) Meaning, a slave should be kept ignorant, because they can’t fight for their freedom, if they know nothing of it. Not only is that wrong for slaves not being able to have the privilege to learn, it’s hard for slave holders to be so dehumanizing to them. In one of the last chapters of the narrative, Douglass describes the ships in the bay, as he glanced from his house. He describes how free they are, yet, they are objects, and have no feelings. He has feelings, and is human, but still not free.
The sight of them affected him greatly. He writes” you are loosed from your mornings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! ”(46) It is so unfair that he was treated as something with no feelings, like a ship, but an object is treated more fairly. The way one is treated should never be based on the color of one’s skin. He had been robbed of food, knowledge, clothing, shelter, his birthday, and his right to live freely and happily without being afraid to. Slavery is robbery, and is morally wrong.