“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered” (Fox). Fredrick Douglass was an African-American slave who had his dignity taken away from him due to multiple occasions. He got whipped almost regularly and had his rights seized once he got enslaved. However, Fredrick’s resistance, determination, and courage were the key to the process of him regaining his dignity.
The first factor that helped Douglass in his attempt to regain his dignity was resistance as he disregarded Mr. Covey’s orders. When Mr. Covey commands Douglass to remove his clothes, Douglass “made him no answer, but stood with his clothes on.” Douglass thus shows Mr. Covey that he isn’t like the other slaves who would follow every order and agree to every command. He somewhat showed his strength and power through disobedience. Even after Mr. Covey “repeated his order, I Douglass still made him no answer, nor did I he move to strip myself himself.” Through this small act of rebellion, Douglass regained a part of his dignity by his resistance towards the orders he was given. Also, when Mr. Covey called after Douglass after discovering that he was running away, Douglass “disregarded both his calls and his threats” and continued on his way towards the woods. He made a point to Mr. Covey that he isn’t easily broken and that he has confidence, and it is this confidence which will allow him to reclaim his dignity.
Another factor that helped Douglass reclaim his dignity was determination. Douglass had enough and was “determined to be used so no longer.” He would no longer allow being whipped and would not allow anyone to treat him “like a brute” again. He wanted to find a solution as he will no longer agree to any type of subjugation. His “determination to be free” and his will were what caused Douglass to rebel and face this problem. It is what caused him to “resolve…go to my his master…and ask for his protection.” His will is also what caused him to stand up for himself and realize that in some cases, the only person who can help you is you and that if you want a change, you should have the will to fight for that change.
Douglass regained his dignity completely after his fight with Mr. Covey. Douglass “resolved to fight…and as I he did, I he rose.” Douglass finally gained courage and was able to defend himself by fighting back. Douglass proved himself to Mr. Covey and set a point that he isn’t someone you should mess with. He would no longer agree to this mistreatment as he “repelled by force the bloody arm of slavery.” His courage and confidence gave him the opportunity to hold his ground and fight for the change he wants. It allowed him to remember the life he lived and the freedom he had before slavery took it away. Douglass “had several fights, but was never whipped.” He realized his worth and ability, as he never allowed anything else to take his dignity away from him ever again. He rose as he took back what was once taken away from him; he rose as he regained his dignity.
Several factors play an important role in regaining one’s dignity. However, the most important factors are proving one’s self by resistance, having the will to cause a change and having the courage and confidence to fight for that change. The story of Fredrick Douglass explores these factors as it shows how Frederick Douglass regained what was taken away from him-his dignity.