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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   



7. Slavery and
Freedom


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
Activities
- Author
Activities
- Context
Activities
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Author Activities


Frederick Douglass - Author Questions

Back Back to Frederick Douglass Activities
  1. Comprehension: Why does Douglass refuse to narrate the details of his escape in his 1845 autobiography? What effect does this gap in information, and the reason Douglass provides for it, have on his narrative?

  2. Context: Before Douglass's violent encounter with Covey, he is given a root by his friend, the slave Sandy Jenkins. Sandy claims that the root is a kind of talisman that will protect anyone who carries it. Although Douglass represents himself as skeptical of Sandy's superstitious belief in the root's power, he does at some level validate the effectiveness of the talisman in the course of his narrative. What is the significance of this invocation of African American folk magic at this point in the narrative?

  3. Context: How does Douglass describe Sorrow Songs in his Narrative? How do they affect him personally? What does he believe they signify in slave culture? What does he mean when he says that though they seem "unmeaning jargon," they are "full of meaning" for the slaves?

  4. Exploration: Douglass's autobiographical account of the process through which a "slave was made a man" has often been compared to Benjamin Franklin's narrative of his own self-making. What do these autobiographies have in common? How do these two writers' approach to literacy and writing compare? How does Douglass recast Franklin's ideals to fit the condition of an escaped slave?



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