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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Chapters III–IV

Chapters I–II

Chapters III–IV, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary: Chapter III

Douglass continues detailing Colonel Lloyd’s home plantation where he grew up. Lloyd has a large cultivated garden that people from all over Maryland come to see. Some slaves can not resist eating fruit out of it. To prevent them, Lloyd puts tar on the fence surrounding the garden and whips any slave found with tar on him.

Colonel Lloyd also has an impressive stable with horses and carriages. The stable is run by two slaves, a father and son named old Barney and young Barney. The Colonel is picky about his horses and often whips both men for minute faults in the horses that even they themselves cannot even control. Despite the injustice of this system, the slaves can never complain. Colonel Lloyd insists that his slaves stand silent and afraid while he speaks and that they receive punishment without comment. Douglass recalls seeing old Barney kneel on the ground and receive more than thirty lashes. The whippings are often performed by one of the Colonel’s three sons or by one of his three sons‑in‑law.

Colonel Lloyd’s wealth is so great that he has never even seen some of the hundreds of slaves he owns. One day, the Colonel meets a slave traveling on the road. Lloyd, without identifying himself, asks the slave about his owner and how well he is treated. The slave responds that his owner is Colonel Lloyd, and that he is not treated well. Several weeks later, the slave is chained and sold to a Georgia slave trader for the offense to Lloyd. This is the punishment, Douglass concludes, that awaits slaves who tell the truth.

Douglass explains that many slaves, if asked, always report being contented with their life and their masters, for fear of punishment. This suppression of the truth is common to all people, slaves or free. Slaves sometimes truthfully speak well of their masters, too. It is also common for slaves to become competitive and prejudiced about their masters. Slaves sometimes argue over whose master is kinder, even if the masters are not kind at all.

Summary: Chapter IV

The second overseer at Captain Anthony’s, Mr. Hopkins, is fired after only a short time and replaced by Mr. Austin Gore. Mr. Gore is proud, ambitious, cunning, and cruel, and his domination over the slaves is total. He does not argue or hear protests and sometimes provokes slaves only for an excuse to punish them. Mr. Gore thrives on the Great House Farm. His ensures that all of the slaves bow down to him, while he, in turn, willingly bows down to the Colonel. Mr. Gore is a silent man, never joking as some overseers would. He performs barbaric deeds of punishment with a cool demeanor.

One day, Mr. Gore whips a slave named Demby, who then runs into a nearby creek to soothe the pain. Demby refuses to come out of the creek, and Mr. Gore gives Demby a three‑count to return. When Demby makes no response after each call, Mr. Gore promptly shoots him. When questioned about his actions, Mr. Gore calmly explains that Demby was setting a bad example for the rest of the slaves. Mr. Gore is never investigated for this murder, and he still lives free. Douglass points out with irony that Mr. Gore is respected for his talent as an overseer.

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Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

by Mr_Cafaro, April 04, 2013

The title Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is suggested by the CCSS Initiative as an Exemplar Text for middle school.


9 out of 16 people found this helpful

Book Review for teens

by MirandaP97, August 19, 2013

Yes, I am a teen myself, and if you HAVE to read this, then do so, but if you don't have to, then don't read is incredibly boring...I had to read it for my English class...horrible book...unless you like narratives...then to you...ENJOY!!! It is hard to understand in some parts, but if you have ever read Fahrenheit 451, then it's about that bad...


8 out of 71 people found this helpful

Actually a good book

by BellaTheGod, November 20, 2013

No doubt, I thought it was gonna be super boring and I was gonna hate it, but to the contrary, I actually REALLY liked it. It's something I can read, and it doesn't take too long to read either. If you actually like history, and like to read about the stuff you won't find in a textbook, then this narrative is worthwhile.


such Douglass

much history


7 out of 10 people found this helpful

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