Christiansen English 267
STUDY QUESTIONS FOR THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS
1. Explain the author's genealogical tree, place of birth, early education, and family life.
2. How does Frederick Douglass in his narrative/autobiography show some of Benjamin Franklin's "go-getting attitude that measured a man's success from honesty and hard work." Does Douglass practice any of Franklin's famous Thirteen Virtues?
3. The slave narrative as a genre mirrored the culture of the plantation system. Discuss this institution's social, economic, religious, etc. organization, where possible.
4. Does Douglass realize he is a slave when he is a child of seven? What was his first introduction to the realities of the slave system?
5. Douglass' autobiography is called a classic. A traditional explanation of a classic suggests that it fits this pattern:
a. It contains an initiation process.
b. It has a maturing experience.
c. It is authentically documented.
d. It is written in an impressive manner.
Support or refute any of these explanation as they apply to the Narrative.
6. What was the major turning point in douglass' decision to be a free man?
7. Slaves celebrated holidays on the plantations. How were these days spent and why?
PROVERBS OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS
A man's character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.
Food to the indolent is poison, not sustenance.
A man without force is without the essential dignity of humanity. Human nature is so, that it cannot honor a helpless man, though it can pity him, and even this it cannot do long if signs of power do not arise.
To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason.
SUGGESTED READING: LIFE AND TIMES OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS for a more detailed and comprehensive and better written autobiography.