Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave cover image

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass
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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1202

Master Andrew
Andrew is Captain Anthony's son, who is a wicked and merciless drunk that many slaves on Lloyd's plantation fear because he is so ruthless and cruel.

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Master Thomas Auld
Thomas Auld is the brother of Hugh Auld, whom Douglass worked for in Baltimore, and the former husband of Lucretia, daughter of Douglass' master Captain Anthony. Because of a severe misunderstanding between the two brothers, Thomas Auld in spite takes Douglass to live with him for two years in St. Michael's, a rural part of Maryland. These are the worst years of Douglass' life, as he endures extreme hardship, both physically and mentally. Auld is most known for keeping his slaves hungry.

Captain Anthony
Captain Anthony is Douglass' first master and owns him until Anthony dies. Captain Anthony does not play a large part in the actual narrative, yet Douglass' life is thrown into disarray after Anthony dies, since he is bounced from one relative of Anthony to the next. Moreover, Douglass suggests early on that the captain may be his father. Douglass undergoes many hardships due to his owner's not providing for him, and thus he is at the mercy of Anthony's two children, Lucretia and Andrew, and their offspring.

Mr. Hugh Auld
Hugh Auld is the brother of Captain Anthony's son-in-law, Captain Thomas Auld. Beginning as a teenager, Douglass works for Auld for seven years in Baltimore, mostly taking care of Auld's son, Thomas. As slave masters go, Auld is less violent and more fair toward Douglass than many others he has worked under, yet Auld forbids his wife, Sophia, to teach Douglass how to read. He claims that education ''would forever unfit him to be a slave.'' Auld eventually and unwittingly provides Douglass the means of escape by hiring him out to ship carpenters.

Mrs. Sophia Auld
Mrs. Sophia Auld is a weaver by trade and married to Hugh Auld. She plays a significant part in Douglass' literacy acquisition by teaching him the alphabet. Unfortunately, she stops when her husband finds out and explains, ‘‘If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell.’’ Afterwards, Sophia becomes cold and mean-spirited towards Douglass, treating him callously like other slave owners. Yet ultimately she proves to be the nicest of Douglass' many masters.

Harriet Bailey
Harriet Bailey is Frederick Douglass' mother. Despite being separated from her son at his birth, Harriet attempts to see her infant son by walking twelve miles from the farm where she works as a field hand to stay with him for a few hours before walking back before sunrise. She dies when Douglass is about seven years old.

Edward Covey
Edward Covey was known as ‘‘a well-known negro breaker and slave-driver’’ in the St. Michael's area of Maryland, where Thomas Auld lived. His reputation in the area provides him with a steady supply of slaves who need to be taught who is master. Thus, Covey employs harsh and unrelenting physical work and punishment to break a slave's spirit and transform him into a brute. Ironically and hypocritically, Covey professes to be ‘‘a pious soul.’’ Covey is known by the slaves who work for him as ''a snake'' because he sneaks up on slaves when they least expect it. Douglass is sent to Covey for a year as a field hand, where he undergoes the worst trials his spirit has ever undergone. Yet having reached his lowest point, Douglass stands up to the man who has reduced him to merely an animal by challenging him on his own ground. After a grueling fight in which Douglass has the upper hand, Covey never again whips Douglass.

Frederick Douglass
Douglass is the narrator of his account as a slave and his eventual journey to freedom. Beginning from his birth, Douglass experiences and witnesses many hardships throughout his years as a slave in Maryland and is prone to misfortune due to his subjugated status. His attempts at liberating himself, first through self-education and then through his escape to the North, are a testament to the desire of humans to acquire freedom.

William Freeland
William Freeland is another slaveholder whom Douglass works for in the St. Michael's area of Maryland. However, he is far more open and prudent than any other slaveholder Douglass has known. He never professes to be heavily religious or pious, nor does he work slaves to complete exhaustion. Freeland also owns only two slaves, Henry Harris and John Harris. In the year that Douglass works for him, he never receives one blow.

Mr. William Gardner
Gardner is a shipbuilder who hires Douglass to work for him and whose shipyard is fraught with racial tension between black and white workers.

William Lloyd Garrison
At the beginning of the narrative, William Garrison writes a preface that is meant to lend credibility to Frederick Douglass' slave narrative. Because of the prejudice that many northerners had toward African Americans, Garrison felt it important to lend his own credibility as a show of support to Douglass.

The Grandmother
Although the reader never knows her real name, the grandmother of Frederick Douglass is an emblematic figure of the dehumanizing effects of slavery on women. She is born into slavery, has borne twelve children into slavery, and dies a slave, yet her numerous contributions to the plantation are rewarded with any number of cruelties. After taking care of Captain Anthony from the time he was a baby to when he died, as well as caring for her many children and grandchildren, the grandmother is left to fend for herself in the wilds of nature. Too old to work, she has been let out to die.

Henry Harris
Henry Harris is a slave of Mr. Freeland who, along with Douglass and others, plans to escape to the North. Douglass teaches him to read and write.

John Harris
See Henry Harris.

Aunt Hester
Aunt Hester is a relative of Douglass who is whipped mercilessly by Mr. Plummer, an overseer. At a young age, Douglass witnesses his aunt being tied up and whipped, until the blood drips to the floor, for going out to meet a young black man on another farm. This is the first time Douglass realizes the horrors of slavery.

Sandy Jenkins
Sandy Jenkins, a slave whom Douglass meets in the woods after running away from Covey's farm, gives Douglass a root to carry on his right side that she says will protect him from physical harm.

Colonel Edward Lloyd
Colonel Lloyd owns the plantation on which Douglass is born in eastern Maryland. He is mostly mentioned in the Narrative in terms of what he owns and how he treats his slaves who take care of his horses. His plantation is described by Douglass as being as large as a village, and his slaveholdings are close to five hundred.

Anna Murray
Though she is mentioned only briefly in the narrative, Anna Murray is a domestic worker in Baltimore who moves to New York to marry Douglass soon after they arrive there. She is a free worker and helps fund Douglass' journey to freedom.

David Ruggles
An African-American abolitionist and journalist, David Ruggles befriends Douglass soon after Douglass' arrival in New York and helps him and Anna settle in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

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