Meaning of the quote
“Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me” (Henkel 89). Frederick Douglass is referring to his master’s wife when he was Hugh Auld’s slave. He means that even though he was the slave and Mrs Auld the master, she was also affected by slavery. During his stay at master Hugh’s for close to a decade, he learned how to read and write which eventually gave him power to think and liberate himself from her master. Additionally, in those times, the slaves were restricted from accessing any literature by their masters. This meant that his master too was a slave to the task of policing him. These efforts of vigilance on Douglass gave her master hectic time to control him. This translates to assumption that keeping slavery was as hard as being slave. Douglass, after knowing how to write and read, gets psychological freedom and liberation to the society (Henkel 89). This quote is very much true. This is because his master for example, changed from compassionate lady to being “a tiger”. It is the slave keeping in her place that made her lose her compassionate being.
How this claim would or would not help Abolition
Although this statement is true, it would be both helpful and detrimental to abolition efforts. This claim would help improve fight for abolition as Douglass, himself who was a slave had seen the suffering her master went through to have him kept as a slave. Additionally, this refutes the claim of white supremacy (Henkel 89). On the contrary, the claim would hinder abolition as it would translate that slavery was just a short life experience that one would go through and rise against dehumanizing acts. The claim would only be practical for those who succeeded like Douglass but not to all slaves.
Henkel, Michele A. “Forging Identity Through Literary Reinterpellation: The Ideological Project of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative.” Literature and Psychology 48.1/2 (2002): 89.