American Literature/Journal Entry 3

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself –
S. Toland-Dix, Instructor
INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT: Provide specifically detailed responses of at least two
(2) paragraphs in length to four (4) of the following questions. Be sure to answer
all parts of the question. Your individual written responses are due by 11:59 pm
Monday, July 3rd.
1.) Describe in detail the Narrative’s powerful opening scene. For what offense is
Douglass’s Aunt Hester punished so brutally? What does Douglass the adult writer
expect the reader to understand or surmise about her relationship to the master that the
child Douglass would not have known?
2.) Who is Sophia Auld? How is she first described? Describe her initial relationship
with Frederick. How does she change? Why does she change? According to Douglass,
what does the change in her illustrate?
3.) Why is Frederick determined to learn to read? Describe in detail the strategies he
uses to become literate – learn to read and write. How does literacy change him?
4.) What is the purpose of Chap. IV? Discuss two or three specific examples of brutality
that Douglass describes; what impact do these descriptions have on you as a reader?
How does he show, again, that slavery had a horrible effect on white people as well?
5.) Douglass asserts that: “Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened
the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity” (1184). How was Baltimore liberating for
him, both as a child and later as a teenager? In other words, what opportunities did
Baltimore provide that were not available to him on the plantation?
6.) What does Douglass find particularly abhorrent about “Christian” slave owners?
Provide one of the examples he gives to support his critique. What is the purpose of the
“Appendix” (p.1224) Douglass added to his narrative?
7.) Why is Douglass sent to live with Covey, the “slave-breaker”? What strategies does
Covey use to “break” slaves? How does Douglass describe the first six months of his stay
with Covey?
8.) How does Douglass claim manhood? In the Narrative, Douglass presents his fight
with Covey, rather than his escape, as the climax and turning point of the narrative.
Why is this experience a turning point for him?
9.) What was the purpose of the Sabbath school Douglass conducted on Freeland’s
plantation? How does he describe his first escape attempt with a group of other
enslaved men? What was the result of the attempt?
10.) According to the editor’s introduction, how does Douglass escape successfully?
What explanation does he give in the Narrative, published in 1845, for not giving the
details of his escape?
11.) There were three rituals of freedom claimed by escaped slaves – giving one’s self a
name, getting married legally, and getting a job. Discuss specifically how Douglass
presents his experience of each of these rituals. Name two things about the North that
surprise Douglass.
12.) In the speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Douglass asserts that “there
is nothing to be argued in the anti-slavery creed” because the fact that the slave is a man
“is conceded already” (1238). Detail two of the points that he makes to support his
assertion. In other words in what ways has the enslaved person’s manhood/ humanity
already been conceded?