Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

by: Frederick Douglass

Suggested Essay Topics

1. What role do women play in Douglass’s Narrative? Pay close attention to when or if female characters speak, to how female characters relate to Douglass, and to the depiction of women in relation to virtue.

2. Analyze Douglass’s treatment of Christianity in the Narrative. Why does he include his “Appendix”?

3. How does Douglass describe New Bedford, Massachusetts? How does this description undermine economic arguments in favor of slavery?

4. Think about Douglass’s private speech to the ships in Chapter X. Why does Douglass recreate this speech in his Narrative? What do the ships represent? Why is this moment important within the Narrative?

5. Analyze the various references to American Revolutionaries in Douglass’s Narrative. How does Douglass’s use of these references differ from Garrison’s and Phillips’s? Why is the phrase “An American Slave” included in Douglass’s title?