IV. Reading Comprehension – Read the passage then answer the following questions.
From My Bondage and My Freedomby Frederick Douglass The slave mother can be spared long enough from the field to endure all the bitterness of a mother’s anguish, when it adds another name to a master’s ledger, but not long enough to receive the joyous reward afforded by the intelligent smiles of her child. I never think of this terrible interference of slavery with my infantile affections, and in diverting them from their natural course, without feelings to which I can give no adequate expression.
I do not remember to have seen my mother at my grandmother’s at any time. I remember her only in her visits to me at Col. Lloyd’s plantation, and in the kitchen of my old master. Her visits to me there were few in number, brief in duration, and mostly made in the night. The pains she took, and the toil she endured, to see me, tells me that a true mother’s heart was hers, and that slavery had difficulty in paralyzing it with unmotherly indifference.
My mother was hired out to a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve miles from Old Master’s, and, being a field hand, she seldom had leisure, by day, for the performance of the journey. The nights and the distance were both obstacles to her visits. She was obliged to walk, unless chance flung into her way an opportunity to ride; and the latter was sometimes her good luck. But she always had to walk one way or the other. It was a greater luxury than slavery could afford, to allow a black slave mother a horse or a mule, upon which to travel twenty-four miles, when she could walk the distance. Besides, it is deemed a foolish whim for a slave mother to manifest concern to see her children, and, in one point of view, the case is made out—she can do nothing for them. She has no control over them; the master is even more than the mother, in all matters touching the fate of her child. Why, then, should she give herself any concern? She has no responsibility. Such is the reasoning, and such the practice. The iron rule of the plantation, always passionately and violently enforced in that neighborhood, makes flogging the penalty of failing to be in the field before sunrise in the morning, unless special permission be given to the absenting slave. “I went to see my child,” is no excuse to the heart of the overseer.