Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life: Questions & Considerations

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The following questions are for your self-study as you read through Douglass' narrative.  We will cover these in our group presentations.
  1. Look at Douglass' opening paragraph.  What does it tell the reader about Douglass' concerns and self-identity?

  2. What does the "mulatto" nature of American slavery reveal about the family hypocrisy and racial rationalizations of slaveholders?

  3. Why does Douglass go into so much detail about the whipping of his aunt? What kind of impact did it have on him as a small boy?

  4. What impact do the slave songs have on Douglass?  What do they reveal about slavery and sorrow?

  5. What do we learn about the psychological nature of slavery?

  6. Why does Douglass credit God's providence in sending him to Baltimore?

  7. What kind of effect does learning to read have on Douglass?

  8. What impact does slaveowning have on Sophia?

  9. Describe the impact of the word abolition on Douglass.

  10. What is Douglass hoping to show by telling the story of his grandmother? How is God's justice invoked?

  11. How does piety actually act to support slavery's evil in the life of Thomas Auld and Mr. Covey?

  12. Describe the nature of Douglass' prayer to God.

  13. How does Douglass describe his new resolve to seek freedom?

  14. Why does Douglass consider the slaveholding practice of Christmas holidays

  15. Describe the impact of Douglass' Sabbath school on his circle of fellows.

  16. Why is it so important for Douglass to stress his right to be his own master?

  17. What role does education have in true freedom?

  18. What makes David Ruggles and Nathan Johnson true Christians?

  19. How does Douglass contrast the Christianity of Christ with that of the slaveholders?

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding