In what ways might The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass be compared to the Book of Psalms?

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

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I think that one of the most striking comparisons between both works is their desire to draw the reader in through the use of imagery and an exploration of the "exasperating complexities in human existence."  The idea of what defines faith and how faith can be seen in different lights is brought out in both works. Psalmsis quite direct in wishing to explore the intricacies in what constitutes faith in the divine.  In evoking the differences between "false" and "real" Christianity, Douglass is doing much of the same.  Both works are not afraid of the intensity of emotions that accompany the notion of being in the world.  For example, Psalm 3:7 calls for a sense of violence, no different than what Douglass feels towards those who perpetrate the notion and condition of slavery in America.  Continuing with this idea of extolling emotions, many of the Psalms represent the essential "cries for help," something that Douglass brings out in his work.  Both explore in both joy and sadness the complex nature of spirituality and faith in redemption.


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