The Narrative and Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

Chapters 9-11

Read chapters 9-11. Use the following thinking questions to guide your comprehension and reading. You will be reading to the end of the narrative.

You may read the Google text below or listen to the chapters.

Chapter 9

Under what conditions did Douglass live when with Thomas Auld and his wife at St. Michael's? What behavior toward a lame woman slave does Douglass record?

Note the effectiveness of Douglass's ironic description of Capt. Auld:
"Here was a recently converted man, holding on upon the mother, and at the same time turning out her helpless child, to starve and die! Master Thomas was one of the many pious slaveholders who hold slaves for the very charitable purpose of taking care of them." Who might be the audience for Douglass's irony?

Chapter 10

After six months of working under Mr. Covey, Douglass writes that "Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!"

How does the above passage portray the psychological state of a slave? What image or images does the passage evoke? Is this passage a persuasive piece of rhetoric against slavery? How? Which persuasive appeals is Douglass using?

Douglass prefaces his physical combat with Mr. Covey with the declaration:
"You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man." Why is fighting Mr. Covey—literally wrestling with him—an act of courage for Douglass? Why is it yet another turning point in his life?

Chapter 11

What was Douglass's motto?

What reasons does Douglass give for not describing more of his manner of escape?

How does he choose his new name? Why may he have found it fitting?
Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:20 PM