Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass- Winter Break Assignment
Part One (chapters 1-3)
1. The author, Fredrick Douglas, had the purpose in the beginning passage to show the cruelty of slavery and awful memories he had of his slaveholder. The slaveholder would “beat” and “whip” his aunt until he became tired. Examples of diction that Douglass used to portray this brutality would be: “It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery…”(Douglass 4).
2. In the chapter two of Fredrick Douglass’s narrative he speaks of the name of his overseer, Mr. Severe. Douglass says that “Mr. Severe, the overseer, used to stand by the door of the quarter, armed with a large hickory stick and heavy cowskin, ready to whip any one…” (Douglass 7). It was ironic that his overseers’ name was this because of how awful and “severe” he was to his slaves. Douglass’s purpose in mentioning his name was to show how powerful the slaveholders were, and that Mr. Severe worked hard to live up to his name.
3. This passage beginning with “It was painful to stand….” shows how strict and unsympathetic the slaveholders were to their slaves. All of the slaveholder’s complaints that were listed by Douglass showed the brutality of their masters. It also showed that their expectations of the slaves were very unrealistic. In addition, after the slaveholders listed the all of the complaints, the slaves were not able to say one word in defense of themselves which exemplifies the power that the slaveholders possessed over them.
Part Two (chapters 4-7)
4. An example of parallelism in chapter four is when Douglass states “To be accused was to be convicted, and to be convicted was to be punished… to escape punishment was to escape accusation” (Douglass 13). Douglass also uses antimetabole to describe Mr. Gore. An example of an antimetabole in this chapter was: “His words were in perfect keeping with his looks, and his looks were in perfect keeping with is words” (Douglass 13).
5. In chapter five, Douglass’s diction and syntax convey his attitude toward moving to Baltimore and living with the Aulds when he states that “[he] left it with joy” (Douglass 16). This refers to the happiness he felt after he left the plantation. His simple and direct syntax helps to get his point across to the reader. In addition, he uses words like “joy” and “happiest days” to the emotions that he felt.
6. Douglass’s epiphany in chapter six is when he realizes what slavery really is. He hopes to avoid being taken advantage of like other slaves by educating himself. He learns to read and write. He also learns about abolitionists and how wrong slavery is. He states how the words “ sank deep into [his] heart” and that he established an “entirely new train of thought” (Douglass 20). At that point he had discovered a new revelation.
7. In chapter seven, Douglass uses irony when he states: “slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me” (Douglass 22). An example of a paradox is: “This bread I used bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who in return, would give me the more valuable bread of knowledge” (Douglass 23). An allusion is apparent when Douglass says “…I met with one of Sheridan’s might speeches on the behalf of Catholic emancipation” (Douglass 24).
Part Three (chapters 8-11)
8. Douglass uses imagery to portray the plight of his grandmother when he states: “ She stands- she sits- she staggers- she falls – she groans- she dies- and there are none of her children or grandchildren present to wipe her from her wrinkled brow the cold sweat of death or to place beneath the sod her fallen remains” (Douglass 29). His imagery displays the struggles that he