Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglass Essay

Summary of Chapter 1: Fredrick Douglass mainly speaks about how he is like many other slaves who don’t know when they were born and, sometimes, even who their parents are. From hearsay, he estimates that he was born around 1817 and that his father was probably his first white master, Captain Anthony. Although children of mixed-race parentage are always categorized as slaves, Douglass says, and this class of “mulattos” is increasing fast. Quote: Page=18 “I received the tidings of [my mother’s] death with much the same emotions I should have probably felt at the death of a stranger. My Thought’s: I found this quote very important because Douglass’s mother dies, although as he says he doesn’t feel as much sympathy as he would have, if he hadn’t been separated from his mother form birth and been able to have a close and personal relation with Harriet Bailey, his mom. Summary of Chapter 2: Beginning speaks about Captain Anthony [superintendent of the plantation] and his has two sons, Andrew and Richard, one daughter, Lucretia, and her husband, Captain Thomas Auld. Their house is part of a plantation owned by Colonel Lloyd, a rich landowner in Talbot county.

Colonel Lloyd’s home plantation has three to four hundred slaves and he owns many more in the twenty or so farms nearby. When young Douglass is first brought to Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, the overseer Mr. Severe rightly named because he is a cruel, bitter man who constantly swears. He dies shortly after Douglass arrives and the slaves consider it a easeful providence. He is replaced by Mr. Hopkins, a quiet man, which the slaves consider a good overseer. Quote: Page=26 “I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs.

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I was myself within the circle; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear. ” My Thought’s: I think Douglass is just trying to explain that the singing of slaves is an expression of their happiness. Although the songs are actually evidence, of the slaves deep unhappiness. Summary of Chapter 3: Fredrick Douglass went to live at Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, and was surprised by the splendor he saw. Douglass heard that Lloyd owned approximately a thousand slaves, and he believes that this estimate is probably right.

He later explains that owners often send in colored spies with their own slaves to determine their opinions about their living and working conditions. For this reason, many slaves, when asked by other slaves about their living conditions, simply lie and present a picture of slavery. Strangely enough, slaves often even have prolonged discussions among slaves, regarding whose owner is better, stronger, or richer. Quote: Pages: 31 “It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man’s slave was deemed a disgrace indeed! ” My Thoughts:

Slaves were known and treated at such low standards; so it was a shame to be even compared to an slave. Summary of Chapter 4: Hopkins was eventually replaced by Gore, an ambitious overseer who was extremely cruel. Douglass remembers one time when Gore whipped a slave named Demby so badly that Demby ran into a deep, flowing creek to soothe his shoulders. Gore warned that he would shoot if Demby didn’t come out of the creek. Gore counted to three, and Demby still didn’t obey to come out of the creek. Without further notice, Gore cocked his musket and killed Demby.

Gore later explained to Lloyd that the killing served as an example to other slaves: “disobey — and die. ” Quote: Page: 35 “It was worth a half-cent to kill a ‘nigger,’ and a half-cent to bury one. ” My Thoughts: I got from this quote on page 35 of Chapter 4 is that “niggers” were not valued much in the eyes of whites or even of slave owners. Summary of Chapter 5: Douglass describes the conditions of slave children on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, telling about his own experience was typical of slave children. Although he was seldom whipped, he was constantly hungry and cold.

Even in the dead of winter, he was given nothing but a long shirt to wear, and, at night, he would steal a bag, crawl into it headfirst, and sleep. Children were fed cornmeal mush from a trough on the ground, and they ate from it, like the pigs did. When he was about seven or eight years old, he was given to Captain Anthony’s son-in-law’s brother, Hugh Auld, who lived in Baltimore. Douglass In Baltimore, Mr. and Mrs. Auld and their child, Thomas, welcomed him kindly. His duty was to take care of young Thomas. Quote: Page: 39 From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise. ” My Thoughts: Shows that Fredrick was not going to let slavery get the best of him, nor his faith, spirit, or hope. In which he says comes from God. Summary of Chapter 6: Shows how Mrs.

Sofia was unlike any white lady Douglass had ever met; she was so kind hearted, although her personality soon changed. At first, Mrs. Auld taught Douglass how to read, but Mr. Auld admonished her and explained, “Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world . . . if you teach that nigger . . . how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. ” Later in the chapter Douglass talks about how slaves in the city were treated much more genuine then slaves in the plantations. There were even community standards regarding how slaves should be treated.

Quote: Page: 40 “But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon. ” My Thoughts: The quote above seems to me that Fredrick Douglass is describing how many slaves alter from how they used to be into something they don’t want to be.

Such as when he is describing a girl in the quote above: “that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord…. ” [From quote above] Summary of Chapter 7: Douglass developed plans to learn how to read; he tricked neighborhood kids into teaching him by giving bread to poor white boys in exchange for lessons. Douglass had soon found hope to freedom after meeting some kind Irish workers in a shipyard, who advised him to escape to the North. He was only twelve years old, but he resolved that day to eventually run away. Quote: Page: 41 If you gave a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing-but to obey his master. ” My Thoughts: To me this is one of the most significant quotes of the book Because it is an actually response unto why slaves were not allowed to go to school. [Knowledge=Power] Summary of Chapter 8: Douglass tells us that about five years after he had been living in Baltimore, his old master, Captain Anthony, died, and Douglass was sent back to the plantation for a valuation so that all of the captain’s property could be divided up to his relatives.

Later after Douglass’s return to Baltimore, Lucretia and Andrew died, and all of the slaves were scheduled to be sold or given away. Leavening Douglass angry about how his grandmother, after years of service to Anthony, was left to die in an isolated hut in the woods. Quote: Page: 50 “A single word from the white men was enough-against all our wishes, prayers, and entreaties-to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings. ” My Thoughts: The speech of one white man is more abundant then speech of a group of slaves. Summary of Chapter 9:

Douglass in chapter 9 returned to Master Thomas Auld’s household in St. Michael’s, Talbot County, Maryland, in March 1832. Douglass’ slaveholder was Thomas; “a slaveholder without the ability to hold slaves . . . [and] incapable of managing his slaves either by force, fear, or fraud. ” After about 9 months Thomas Auld was unable to control Douglass, leading him to “lend” him for one year to Edward Covey, a poor farmer who was known as a superb slave breaker. Slave owners who could not control their slaves sent them to Covey for “training”; in return, Covey had free use of these slaves for the farms that he rented.

Quote: Page: 57 “He that knoweth his master will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many strips” My Thoughts: For those in which chose to disobey to a qualify able order from there master will be punished with wipes, but those in which aren’t able, will not. Summary of Chapter 10: Douglass was at “the beck and call of about seventy-five men,” always running errands for them. He might have stayed longer had it not been for a fight he had with his fellow white workers. Douglass’ fellow white apprentices started heckling and striking him one time.

Douglass had promised himself after the Covey incident that he would fight back if physically mistreated, he struck back, and the escalating fight almost turned into a mob scene. Douglass was badly beaten and feared be killed. In the end Douglass managed to escape. Quote: Page: 75 “Does the righteous God govern the universe? And for what does he hold the thunders in his right hand, if not to smite the oppressor, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the spoiler” My Thoughts: Really does bring out an excellent point, because it shows slaves questioning the power of God, and why has he not had mercy on the hard working slaves.

Summary of Chapter 11: Fredrick Douglass was able to get out of the south and into the north. He was quickly surprised to find that the north had been wealthier and much happier people than in the south. Soon Douglass found work loading a ship and managing various odd jobs. Unfortunately, he was unable to work as a caulker, because the white caulkers in New Bedford refused to work with a black person. After Four months of living in new York Douglass chanced upon The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper, and became more acquainted with the anti-slavery movement.

While attending an anti-slavery convention on August 11, 1841, he spoke for the first time to an audience of white people because of the encouraging of William Coffin, an abolitionist leader. Douglass concludes his story by saying that as an ex-slave, he originally would feel uneasy speaking to a white crowd, but he overcame feelings of inferiority and became an advocate of abolition. Quote: Page: 90 “He received all the benefits of slaveholding without its evils; while I endured all the evils of a slave, and suffered all the care and anxiety of a freeman. ” My Thoughts: Fredrick Douglass doesn’t want anything more than just freedom.


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