“…slave in form…slave in fact…”

“I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” – Fredrick Douglass

When Fredrick Douglass talks about “slave in form” in his book he is talking about the actual physical appearance of slaves. It is how they look to others. That is how society views him.  “Slave in fact” is almost the opposite. It is about how the slave is mentally. It is the inner part of the “slave.” When Douglass says “…the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” he is saying that he does not see himself as a slave mentally. He is no longer submissive to the white man. He is his own person with confidence and purpose now. Douglass is now, in his eyes, a man who has gained back his manhood. He gained his identity when he didn’t have one before. When it comes to these perspectives, it is body vs. consciousness.

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