Black and white illustration of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass

Start Free Trial

Why is the setting important to the story and history?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Setting in this case extends into two areas: the period of time Fredrick Douglass writes about in his story and the period of time in our nation's history when the book was published. 

How is where and when (setting) important in telling the story?  In your opinion, why did Fredrick Douglass choose this particular setting for his book? Find sentences from the text that you feel best describe the setting--then write about why you, as the reader, think these sentences are important in recounting the evils of slavery.

The question then asks for the impact of the novel on society. You will have to do some research on this part of the question.  Search for book reviews, or historical accounts of how people responded to Douglass' book at the time it was published.  I've provided a link which you might find helpful:

Good luck and great writing! 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Douglass’s Narrative switches settings several times between the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. Baltimore is a site of relative freedom for Douglass and other slaves. This freedom results from the standards of decency set by the non‑slaveholding segment of the urban population—standards that generally prevent slaveholders from demonstrating extreme cruelty toward their slaves. The city also stands as a place of increased possibility and a more open society. It is in Baltimore that Douglass meets for the first time whites who oppose slavery and who regard Douglass as a human being. By contrast, the countryside is a place of heightened surveillance of slaves by slaveholders. In the countryside, slaves enjoy the least amount of freedom and mobility.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team