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Describe three images of Douglass's grandmother as defined in Frederick Douglass'...

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hilbilly | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 2, 2013 at 2:40 AM via web

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Describe three images of Douglass's grandmother as defined in Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 2, 2013 at 10:06 PM (Answer #1)

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Chapter eight of Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself provides three images of his grandmother. First, he describes his grandmother as "poor" and "old." This image allows readers to see her as one broken by a life of slavery. The word poor, here, does not refer to wealth. Instead, it refers to the miserable nature of the life of a slave.

Second, Douglass describes his grandmother as a sheep. Left to remain a slave after the death of her master (Captain Anthony), Douglass' grandmother simply became one of the "herd," even after her master had "closed his eyes forever" (46).

Lastly, Douglass' grandmother was desolate. After being put out by the family of her master, she was sent to live in a little hut "in perfect loneliness" (47). Here, readers can "see" the old and broken woman living out the remainder of her life utterly alone.

Frederick Douglass' grandmother, never named, illustrates the lack of value placed upon the life of a slave who is too old to work. Her lack of a name illustrates her likeness to all other slaves, and her life illustrates the saddening fact that slaves wore only worth their ability to work (regardless of the many sacrifices he or she made).  

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