Question 1- How does Douglass show that slavery corrupts slave owners?
Douglass shows that slave owners constantly deny the humanity of their slaves in order to justify their ownership of human beings. To convince themselves that their slaves are not quite human, slave owners treat them inhumanely. In treating his slaves like beasts, however, the master becomes a beast himself. Douglass depicts the negative effects of slaveholding on slaveholders through the characters of Thomas Auld and Edward Covey. Douglass shows that both these men must pretend that they are one thing while they are really another. Thomas Auld attempts to act the part of the privileged, powerful slave owner. Both the slaves and Auld himself recognize that he is only acting, and he becomes even more tortured and cruel because of his unconvincing performance. Edward Covey pretends to himself, and to God, that he is a Christian man—righteous and pious. Both characters act like powerful slaveholders and use different beliefs to justify their treatment of slaves. Ones beliefs could be used as an excuse to justify what one thinks is right and wrong.
Question 2- Why does Douglass have no knowledge of his birth date?
Frederick Douglass was born a slave. Records of slave births, if kept, were not usually specific. Frederick Douglass did not have knowledge of his birth date because he was never told what day he was born and Slaves did not celebrate birthdays. It was common for slaves not to know how old they were and many couldn't even count. Masters kept control of their slaves was by keeping them ignorant. If the slave would gain knowledge of his birth and how to read, the slaveholders knew it would be hard to be able to maintain control of the slaves. Keeping the knowledge of slaves birth dates helped dehumanize slaves. Keeping one ignorant can cause another with more knowledge able to control the other.
Question 3- What is one turning point in Douglass’ life as a slave?