Narrative of the life of frederick douglass discussion questions
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick DouglassThank you Mr. Douglass…this was a life changer for me. You are a true American hero and the fact that there are not more monuments, government buildings, holidays or other commemorations of your life seems to me an oversight of epic proportions.
How often is it that you can honestly say that you’ll never be the same after reading a book? Well, this life story of a singular individual has changed me....irrevocably. I will never be able to sufficiently express my gratitude to Mr. Douglass for that extraordinary gift of insight. I’m just not sure how to properly express how deeply this story impacted me both with its content and its delivery. Impressive seems such a shallow word. I guess I will call it a unique and special experience and simply state that this autobiography has been added to my list of All Time Favorites .
Being a fan of history, in general, and American history, in particular, I was somewhat familiar with Frederick Douglass and his reputation for being a great orator and a tireless opponent of slavery. However, this is the first time I’ve actually read any of his writings and I was blown away, utterly, by the intellect, character and strength of this American hero. And make no mistake, this man was a HERO in every sense of the word. I can imagine few people in a generation with the combination of intelligence, strength of character, sense of morality, charity and indomitable will as Frederick Douglass.
Here is a man who, as a slave with little or no free time to himself, spent every spare moment he had teaching himself to read and write. Think about that. In a very telling passage, Douglass says that he knew how important it was to educate himself because of how vehemently his master was opposed to it. I’m paraphrasing, but his message was, ‘What my master saw as the greatest evil, I knew to be a perfect good.’ Such determination and clarity of thought boggles the mind. Rarely have a come across a person whose moral fiber I admire more (John Adams being the other historical figure that jumps to mind).
On the issue of slavery itself, I am resolved that there could be no better description of the horrendous evil of slavery than this book. I previously read Uncle Toms Cabin and, while an important novel, that story had nowhere near the effect on me that this one did. Again, thank you Mr. Douglass.
While there are many aspects of the narrative that are worthy of note (the quality of prose, the excellent balance between details and pace and the fascinating events described), the most memorably impressive thing to me was the tone used by Frederick Douglass to describe his life and the people he came in contact with during his time both as a slave and after securing his freedom. Despite having seen and personally endured staggering brutality at the hands of white slave owners, Douglass never, NEVER comes across as bitter or hate-filled towards all white people. Had I been in his position, I am not sure I could have been so charitable with my outlook.
He speaks frankly and in stark terms about the evil and brutality suffered by himself and his fellow slaves. He sees great wrong and he confronts it boldly with his writing. However, he never generalizes people beyond his indictment of slavery and slave holders. He doesn’t stereotype or extend his anger beyond those whom he rightfully condemns. That is a person of great strength and even greater charity. The dignity of the man is humbling to behold.
After finishing this inspirational, never-be-the-same autobiography, Frederick Douglass has joined my pantheon of American heroes right along side George Washington and John Adams. I plan to read further works by Douglass and can not more strenuously urge others to do the same.
6.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - FULL AudioBook
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Andrews An Introduction to the Slave Narrative ". This essay explains the purpose of the slave narrative as "to enlighten white readers about both the realities of slavery as an institution and the humanity of black people as individuals deserving of full human rights. For example, the slave narrator portrays the plight of slaves as "a kind of hell on earth. Andrews's essay concludes by noting the influence of slave narratives upon modern black autobiography. An Introduction to the Slave Narrative. Skip to Main Content.
An autobiography is a biography of a person written by that person, and it conventionally depicts a process of personal development. For example, at times Douglass intends his life story to stand as the life story of all slaves, or of a typical slave. When in his first paragraph Douglass tells us that he does not know his birth year, he implies that this personal information is important on a public level, an indication of how all slaves are treated by their masters. Douglass understands, though, that he cannot simply argue that the events of his life represent the experience of all slaves. Therefore, Douglass includes many stories from the lives of other slaves whom he knew and stories that he heard secondhand. Accordingly, the Narrative often skips around, rather than progressing in detailed chronological order.
After Douglass fights with Covey, Douglass is
From the opening sentences of the narrative, Douglass delineates the context from which this question emerges — the fact that slave owners typically thought of slaves as animals. It is instructive that this initial comparison of slaves to animals does not serve to express something about the minds of the slave owners; instead, it expresses something about the minds of the slaves that is the consequence of being born into an environment constructed and carefully maintained by their owners. - Biography and Background Teaching the Narrative.
Why do you think it was important for slave owners to keep slaves ignorant about their birthdays and parentage? Douglass opens his story by telling us that he is troubled by not knowing when he was born. Why is this fact so important to him? List the turning points in Douglass' life. To what extent did his "take-charge" attitude create these turning points?
What is their purpose? How would you identify the genres of these two Preface texts? What difference does genre make in texts that have a similar purpose? Which one is more effective, in your view? How does the distinction between human and animal appear in each of the two Preface documents? How are women represented in this chapter?