From hearsay, he estimates that he was born around and that his father was probably his first white master, Captain Anthony. His mother, Harriet Bailey, was a field hand who wasn't allowed to see him very often; she died when Douglass was seven years old. Children of mixed-race parentage are always classified as slaves, Douglass says, and this class of mulattos is increasing rapidly. Douglass implies that these mulatto slaves are, for the most part, the result of white masters raping black slaves.
Here and throughout the autobiography, Douglass highlights the common practice of white slave owners raping slave women, both to satisfy their sexual hungers and to expand their slave populations.
In the first chapter, Douglass also makes mention of the hypocrisy of Christian slave owners who used religious teachings to justify their abhorrent treatment of slaves; the religious practice of slave owners is a recurrent theme in the text.
Throughout the next several chapters, Douglass describes the conditions in which he and other slaves live. As a slave of Captain Anthony and Colonel Lloyd, Douglass survives on meager rations and is often cold. He witnesses brutal beatings and the murder of a slave, which goes unnoticed by the law or the community at large.
Douglass argues against the notion that slaves who sing are content; instead, he likens singing to crying — a way to relieve sorrow. Douglass also draws attention to the false system of values created by slavery, in which allegiance to the slave master is far stronger than an allegiance to other slaves.
When he is seven or eight years old, Douglass is sent to Baltimore to live with the Auld family and care for their son, Thomas. Soon, Douglass discovers abolitionist movements in the North, including those by Irish Catholics.
Douglass spends a year with Covey, who cruelly and brutally whips the slave until Douglass finally fights him. From that day on, Covey leaves Douglass alone. Douglass lives for a time with William Freeland, a kind master, and Douglass finds a family among the other slaves there.
Douglass becomes a Sunday school teacher to other slaves, a position he enjoys. Although this situation is better than any he has experienced, it is still a far cry from freedom, so Douglass attempts to escape by canoeing up the Chesapeake Bay.
He is caught and eventually finds himself working again for Hugh Auld in Baltimore.
First, he runs errands for shipyard workers, but he after some of the workers heckle and strike Douglass, he fights back and is nearly beaten to death.
Working at a different shipyard after the fight, Douglass becomes proficient at ship caulking, but he is forced to turn his wages over to Auld.
Douglass soon makes an arrangement with Auld to hire himself out and give Auld a set amount of wages each week. Douglass is allowed to pocket the rest, thus saving enough for his escape to New York.
When Douglass was an older man, by the way, he adopted February 14 as his birthday. He picked Valentine's Day, he said, because his mother had called him her "little Valentine." Douglass likes to tell us about his own life in order to depict slave life as a whole. Douglass's Narrative is like a highway map, showing us the road from slavery to freedom. At the beginning of the book, Douglass is a slave in both body and mind. At the beginning of the book, Douglass is a slave in both body and mind. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself study guide contains a biography of Frederick Douglass, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
After his escape, Douglass is advised to move to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and he settles there with his new wife, Anna Murray. Douglass makes a living doing odd jobs; he is unable to find work as a caulker, however, because the white caulkers refuse to work with blacks, fearing the former slaves will take over their jobs.
Although he still fears being caught and returned to the South, Douglass attends an anti-slavery convention, where he is encouraged to speak. This forms the beginning of his life in the public eye, speaking and writing in favor of the abolition of slavery.When Douglass was an older man, by the way, he adopted February 14 as his birthday.
He picked Valentine's Day, he said, because his mother had called him her "little Valentine." Douglass likes to tell us about his own life in order to depict slave life as a whole. Douglass's Narrative is like a highway map, showing us the road from slavery to freedom.
At the beginning of the book, Douglass is a slave in both body and mind. At the beginning of the book, Douglass is a slave in both body and mind. The Text: Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Written by Himself () Exemplar Text Vocabulary The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of.
Complete summary of Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Narrative of the Life of Frederick.
Nov 24, · Uncertain of his date of birth or the identity of his father, Frederick Douglass came into the world with one surety: he was born a slave, and would die a slave. Frederick Douglass is one of the most celebrated writers in the African American literary tradition, and his first autobiography is the one of the most widely read North American slave narratives.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave was published in , less than seven years after Douglass escaped from slavery.