Douglass opens his autobiography by stating that he was not aware of when he was born, as slaves were not educated. As such, their times and dates revolved around the seasons as they knew them, that is spring, winter and fall, and the planting and harvesting seasons. The fact that he did not know his birthdates particularly distressed him, and here, we are given a glimpse into the man he would later become, one who was not content to stick with the little he had. Here, he gives us a picture of a man who would desire much more and work hard to achieve his dreams.
As he separated from his mother since his birth, he never got to know her and as such, never knew his father, although he intimated him to be his master, Anthony. Nonetheless, his grandmother took care of him and ensured that he was brought up until the time when he had to take up work for himself in the plantation. It is here that he first witnessed the brutality that slaves underwent when he saw his aunt his master w3hipping his aunt until she bled. He also describes other situations where especially the overseer of the plantation beat the slaves. This brutality enabled him to see the injustice that the slaves were suffering at the hands of their masters, and much later, he fought with his master, leading to a situation where he was not touched again.