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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass | Study Guide

Frederick Douglass

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Course Hero. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed May 29, 2023.


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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass | Quotes


I received the tidings of her death with much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger.

Douglass, Chapter 1

When Douglass's mother passes away, he is indifferent. He has never had the opportunity to forge a relationship with her.


Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy.

Douglass, Chapter 2

The main purpose of the book is to teach about slaves and slavery. People in the North misconstrue slaves' singing to mean they are content.


The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work.

Douglass, Chapter 6

Douglass is referring to Sophia Auld, of whom he spoke glowingly when he first met her. She is good and decent until she gets used to being a slaveholder and behaves like one.


The argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn.

Douglass, Chapter 6

Hugh Auld insisted that Sophia Auld stop teaching Douglass how to read. He said it would make Douglass unmanageable and unhappy. His words inspire Douglass to do anything he can to learn.


The dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!

Douglass, Chapter 10

Douglass is at his lowest point while working for Mr. Covey. He has been broken physically and mentally. His zest for life and learning has been snuffed out.


The day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.

Douglass, Chapter 10

When Douglass fights back against Mr. Covey, he becomes revitalized and is determined to become a free man.


Their object seems to be, to disgust their slaves with freedom, by plunging them into the lowest depths of dissipation.

Douglass, Chapter 10

The slaves are given the week between Christmas and New Year's Day off. The slaveholders encourage the slaves to get drunk during this time, hoping the experience will leave them ill and in need of protection.


For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst.

Douglass, Chapter 10

One of Douglass's themes in the book is that the religion of the South is corrupted. He makes this determination based on his experience with religious slaveholders.


To make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.

Douglass, Chapter 10

The power of education is a major theme in the book. Slaves are kept uneducated and in the dark about the world around them, so they have no aspirations for bettering their situation.


My soul was set all on fire.

Douglass, Chapter 11

Douglass fervently desires to help the slaves. Once he joins the abolitionists, he finds like-minded people.

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