Slavery in American Literature

Examines Frederick Douglass’s autobiography and Amy Kolen’s essay, “Fire”, to examine two forms of slavery in American history.

This paper examines “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” and the essay, “Fire”, to discuss issues of greed, selfishness, and slavery. Perhaps even more upsetting than the legality of slavery in American history itself, was that much of the population viewed it as an essential and fundamental base of the United States’ economy. The author of this paper contends that the population of the United States worried more about its economy and making a profit than attending to the fact that millions of slaves were suffering, all for the good of the slave owners who were waiting to cash in on their next harvest. The same idea can be applied to the treatment of the Triangle Factory workers, who were, in essence, slaves to the factory. By looking at these two examples, one can see that both Douglass’s book and Kolen’s essay demonstrate how the selfish actions of a number of people can lead to the suffering of many others.
Nevertheless, the workers at the factory had little choice but to continue working. The owners of the factory took advantage of the fact that these women needed employment and would do anything for a paycheck. When there finally was a fire, the workers had no way to get out, and most died within minutes. They were slaves to the factory – bound to its fate – for when the factory went down, they went with it. Again, many innocent people suffered due to the selfish actions of selfish people.

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