Douglass, Frederick February —20 Februaryabolitionist, civil rights activist, and reform journalist, was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey near Easton, Maryland, the son of Harriet Bailey, a slave, and an unidentified white man.
As others have observed, the first page of the Narrative is replete with negatives: The slave narrator does not know his age; he is not allowed to ask about it; all he knows about his father is that he is white.
This lack of identifying data is undoubtedly dehumanizing. The brutality of the slaveholders provides other examples of the dehumanization of slavery. The beating of Aunt Hester by Aaron Anthony sets the stage for the many whippings to which Douglass is to be witness.
Among the first of these is the incident of the two Barneys, father and son. In the case of Aunt Hester, this aspect is fairly explicit. Captain Anthony is enraged not so much because Aunt Hester has disobeyed him and gone out in the evening, but rather because she has been with Ned Roberts, another slave.
Miscegenation is, of course, rife between slaveholders and their female slaves. The slaveholder who is both master and father to his slave is quite common.
Conversely, where both beater and beaten are males, homosexuality has been suggested. While such physical abuse undoubtedly leaves psychological scars, the custom of separating the slave infant from his mother is perhaps even more emotionally damaging.
Douglass several times refers to this unnatural procedure. References to it become increasingly specific. Douglass, therefore, by examining one life addresses issues that affect society as a whole.
Similarly, when Douglass imagines his grandmother, it is her isolation that pains him most. She has been put out to pasture in utter loneliness. Such distanced narration could be the detachment of the erudite adult abolitionist looking back; it might also be that the dehumanizing and soul-killing institution has taken its toll.
Occasionally in the Narrative, Frederick Douglass mentions his inability to write down his feelings. Is the slave narrator refusing to feel because it is too painful to do so? As Douglass sees it, the slave-master who whips him in the future must be prepared to kill him.
The autobiographer thus uses one incident to shed light on a larger issue, the brutality of slaveholders. The beating of Aunt Hester also addresses this issue symbolically. As the first of such beatings, it sets the stage for all the rest.
In addition, the sexual overtones make the whipping akin to rape and therefore more brutal. The inextricable link between slavery and the sexual cannot be denied.
So pervasive is the emphasis on community that there are critics who regard the Narrative not as autobiography but as a personal history of American slavery.
That Douglass himself intended the work to be viewed as both is evidenced by the appendix. Here the slave narrator expands on a theme in the work—the incompatibility of slavery and Christianity—at the same time as he signs his new name with a certain pride and flourish.
After all, the individual slave can truly be free only when slavery as an institution is abolished. By the time he is twelve, the autobiographer is reading The Columbian Orator, with its strong antislavery arguments.
He soon learns to write from white street children. The ex-slave narrator is aware that true liberation can only be achieved when both body and mind are free.
The actual writing of his autobiography may be regarded as the ultimate freeing of the mind for Douglass. Given the therapeutic nature of the work, therefore, any help from white abolitionists would have been inappropriate.
When the ex-slave signs his new name at the end of the Narrative, he is affirming both his literacy and his identity.with Mr. Covey, Douglass’ employer. Douglass spent time with Mr. Covey working as a field Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was published with the intention of Documents Similar To Rhetorical Analysis of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
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AP English Comp. Home > English > Literature Classic Books > Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass > Chapter 10 times walk up to us, and give us orders as though: lution, I seized Covey hard by the throat; and as I: did so, I rose.
He held on to me, and I to him. Robert Levine begins The Lives of Frederick Douglass with a quotation from Douglass’ third autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (): “It will be seen that in these pages I have lived several lives as one: first, the life of slavery; secondly, the life of a fugitive from slavery; thirdly, the life of comparative freedom.
Pertinent quotes from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Helpful for writing essays, studying or teaching The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. LibriVox recording of Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.
Read in English by Lee Smalley Frederick Douglass published his highly acclaimed third autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, in and revised it in In , three years after Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery, he launched his career as an abolitionist.
In Nantucket, Massachusetts, he spoke for the first time about his slave experiences.