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Discuss biblical references in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an...

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losaltos | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 25, 2011 at 12:25 PM via web

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Discuss biblical references in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave written by Himself.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 25, 2011 at 7:49 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that one of the most stunning images or reference to religion is how Douglass describes the ringing of "the church bell" and the ringing of the "slave auction bell" as one in the same.  The implication here is that the institution of slavery was assisted through Christianity.  This is not to say that the religion made slavery possible, but rather brings out what Douglass sees as a fundamental hypocrisy.  The most brutal of slaveowners were also the most passionate of church- goers.  This is a direct reference to how those who approach Christianity in the truest of ways would have to stand against slavery.  Slave owners or proponents of slavery could not be authentically religious or profess to know anything about the religion, in Douglass' mind.  Douglass' continual references to slavery is pitted in this "false" vs. "true" Christian view of the world.  For Douglass, "true" Christianity would condemn slavery in no uncertain terms.  An inauthentic Christian, in Douglass' mind, would allow slavery to exist.  It is here where the supposedly "pious" slave owner receives the most amount of criticism from Douglass.  This is where the greatest amount of references to religion exist in the narrative, as Douglass uses the analysis and reference to religion to stress how "false" vs. "true" expressions help to either perpetuate or stop the institution of slavery.

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