7Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Sarah Sanneh, Kevin Stamps, Michelle Kancheva
Ties to Realism: “The Battle with Mr. Covey”
 Follows the daily struggle of a middle class slave.
 Lacks romanticism, idealism, and personal feelings.
 Douglass faces a moral dilemma in which he utilizes
his free will and moral values to reach a satisfactory
-This is shown in the quote: “I will not censure her
harshly; she cannot censure me, for she knows I
speak but the truth” (Douglass 502).
Ties to Realism: “The Battle with Mrs. Auld”
 “The Battle with Mrs. Auld” provides a “faithful
representation of reality” (verisimilitude) as it is an
account of the life of Frederick Douglass that lacks
romanticism, idealism, and excessive personal feelings.
 Douglass faces a moral issue that he must resolve using
his free will and moral values.
- Douglass is lawfully bound to obey all the demands of
his owners, however, the demands of his owner go
against his moral values. Douglass decides– with his free
will– that he will stick to his moral values and exercise
the same natural rights exercised by whites.
Christian Imagery in “The Battle with Mr. Covey”
 Sadly, “The Battle with Mr. Covey” is lacking in
obvious Christian imagery. However, it does serve to
subtly suggest– through Douglass’s actions– that
slavery is a hypocritical institution and serves as an
antithesis of what Christianity is about.
 In addition, through his frequent statements
concerning the equality of all men, Douglass suggests
that all men (and women) are created equal, no man
has the right to degrade this equality, and it is
natural/right to fight for one’s rights.
Christian Imagery in “Battle with Mrs. Auld”
 Christianity and Christian imagery is used to promote the idea
that everyone is equal and it is not nature’s way for men and
women to be slaves or slave owners.
- Nature has done almost nothing to prepare men and women
to be either slaves or slaveholders (Douglass 498).
 Douglass subtly illustrates how the beliefs of Christianity
conflict with the institution of slavery and reveals the
hypocrisy of slave owners.
- Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these
excellent qualities, and her home of its early happiness
(Douglass 499).
- Her abuse of me fell upon me like the blows of the false
prophet upon his ass; she did not know that an angel stood in
the way; and- such is the relation of master and slave- I could
not tell her (Douglass 501).
Douglass’s Transformation in
“The Battle with Mr. Covey”
 At the start of the factual account, Douglass is a somewhat passive
fellow, in that he takes Mr. Covey’s abuse without striking back.
 At the conclusion of the first person account, Douglass confidently
backs up his moral values (physically) and, rather than accepting
severe treatment at the hands of Mr. Covey, demands to be shown
equality and fights for his natural God-given rights.
 White audiences greatly affected the content and style of Douglass’s
writing. Douglass’s writing lacks the cadences and dialect of the
typical slave and is instead presented in an educated and intelligent
way. Basically, Douglass wrote like white people, or at least catered
to their patterns of speech and presented himself as a learned man.
The content of Douglass’s narratives are also affected by white
audiences, as they include many references to Christianity. Douglass
uses the beliefs of his white audience to bring credibility to his
beliefs. By showing his white audience their hypocrisy and by using
Christianity as the basis of his proof, Douglass has the ability to
sway their thinking.
Douglass vs. Mrs. Auld
 Douglass and Mrs. Auld have a “battle” concerning
literacy and the education it brings. At first, Mrs.
Auld is happy teaching her slave (Douglass) to read
and write. Mr. Auld, however, is not partial to this
idea and forbids Mrs. Auld from teaching Douglass
to read and write. Mrs. Auld goes out of her way to
make sure Douglass does not read and write.
However, Douglass is determined to learn and does
everything in his power (even giving away bread in
return for lessons) to do so.
Victims of Slavery: Slave and Mistress
 Mrs. Auld is a victim of slavery because she is controlled by
the same people who “own” Douglass/slaves in general. Mrs.
Auld also falls victim to slavery through society, which robs
her of her “excellent [Christian] qualities” and leaves her
bitter and unhappy (Douglass 499). Society deems that
Douglass should be a slave, and it also decides that Mrs. Auld
must be subservient to her husband and the males around
her. This is significant to Douglass’s central purpose for
writing the autobiography because it shows that society is
responsible for much of the oppression and inequality in the
world, and people must change as a whole for a real difference
to be made. It also suggests that even if some people are kindhearted (like Mrs. Auld), a great difference still won’t be
achieved until people stand up for themselves actively.
Slave Narratives
 Slave narratives focus on finding freedom in or out of
slavery (much like Douglass’s stories).
 The account is told by a slave (Douglass, a former
slave, narrates his stories).
 The primary focus is the nature of slavery and the
meaning of captivity and inequality faced by
enslaved peoples.

similar documents