Douglass is surprised at the apparent wealth in New Bedford. The people appear to be in good health and seem stronger than the people in Maryland. Douglass notes that even black people live well in New Bedford; they live comfortably and look out for one another. Douglass is unable to find work as a caulker—too many whites refuse to work with black men—but he is able to find a job loading oil on a ship. Four months after arriving in New Bedford, Douglass begins reading the newspaper the Liberator, which he very much enjoys. He attends antislavery meetings, including one in Nantucket in 1841, where he is encouraged to speak. He does so reluctantly, as it is his first time speaking in front of white people, but his brief speech is well received. From that point forward, Douglass is engaged in "pleading the cause of my brethren." In an appendix to the narrative, Douglass explains his religious beliefs. His criticisms apply only to the "slaveholding religion" of the land, not to Christianity proper. One is as "good, pure, and holy" as the other is "bad, corrupt, and wicked." He abhors the hypocrites who hold a whip during the week and attend church on Sunday and who preach against theft and adultery while dealing in the sale of slaves. Analysis The system of slavery in the American South was an economic issue as well as a moral one. Southern plantation owners utilized blacks as an unpaid workforce, which enabled the owners to increase profits. As seen with Mr. Covey earlier in the narrative, slaves are a commodity used for economic gain. How appropriate, then, that economics is what incites Douglass to enact his escape plan. Douglass makes a sound and profitable economic decision when he escapes the chains of slavery. When Hugh Auld gives Douglass money, Douglass prefers not to keep it; he does not want to assuage Hugh Auld's guilt. Unlike many other slaves and former slaves, Douglass shows
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Study Guide Quotes 23 Copyright © 2016 Course Hero, Inc. himself equally adept at the mind games that slaveholders play with their slaves. He cannot be bought off with a weeklong drunken bender. Douglass has a sense of his own value. Money and economics continue to motivate Douglass on his arrival in New Bedford. He is surprised at the wealth that exists in the town. Even the home of Mr. Johnson, a laborer, is better than those of "nine tenths of the slaveholders in Talbot County Maryland," and the black residents also live well. But just as in Baltimore, whites in New Bedford refuse to work with blacks. While Douglass spends little time on this fact, it leaves the reader wondering just how different the North is from the South. In the South, there is slavery, and in the North, prejudice. Douglass does not provide the details of his escape, and for good reason. He hopes slaveholders will be confused and uncertain about whether or not their slaves might escape. He does not want to give away any information about escape routes or how slaves might escape. He also wants to protect those who help slaves escape.
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