Frederick Douglass Analysis

Discussion Topics (Masterpieces of American Literature)

It is obvious that not all slaves reacted to their bondage in the same manner. Provide examples from Frederick Douglass’s writing of the various ways slaves reacted to being the legal property of another.

Provide examples from Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself that show an individual’s resiliency.

What ironic incidents are found in Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself?

Describe life in nineteenth century United States as Douglass knew it.

Provide examples that prove Douglass was a courageous man.

Are the literary aspects of Douglass’s autobiographies overshadowed by the historical aspects?

After Douglass obtained his freedom, he could have lived a private life, a life where his only concerns would be related to earning a living and taking care of his family. Why did he not live his life in this manner?

Why should twenty-first century individuals read slave narratives?

Frederick Douglass Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Andrews, William L. The Oxford Frederick Douglass Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Collects the most notable of Douglass’s speeches, fiction, journalism, and autobiographical writings in one volume.

McFeely, William S. Frederick Douglass. New York: Norton, 1991. A solid and well-researched biography with a lengthy bibliography.

Martin, Waldo E., Jr. The Mind of Frederick Douglass. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984. An excellent study of the evolution of Douglass’s thought.

Preston, Dickson J. Young Frederick Douglass: The Maryland Years. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980. Recommended, especially as background to the Narrative of Frederick Douglass.

Starling, Marion Wilson. The Slave Narrative: Its Place in American History. 2d ed. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1988. A consideration of the Narrative of Frederick Douglass in its larger historical context.

Stone, Albert E. “Identity and Art in Frederick Douglass’s Narrative.” CLA Journal 17 (1973). A seminal article; Stone’s analysis is probably the first to consider Douglass’s 1845 autobiography as a major work of literary art.

Sundquist, Eric J., ed. Frederick Douglass: New Literary and Historical Essays. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Provides essays on Douglass from a variety of perspectives.