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Douglass, Book Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 923

Book Review

Chapter II Describes the plantation system of Colonel Lloyd; discusses the daily existence of slaves on the plantation.

  1. Why would a slave whose life on a plantation was very bad fear being sold to a slave trader? Although many slaves were mistreated, even mistreated slaves were afraid of being sold to a slave trader for two reasons. One is that many slaves had family members on the plantations where they worked, and if they got sold, they may never see them again. The other reason is that no matter how bad things were there was the stark reality that they could always get worse.
  2. Why is it difficult to find copies of slave songs? It is hard to find copies of slave songs because the vast majority of slaves were illiterate, and therefore, very few were ever recorded.
  3. Explain the following: “The same traits of character might be seen in Colonel Lloyd’s slaves, as are seen in the slaves of the political parties.” Some slaves had a semblance of honor because of who their masters were. These slaves were often treated better than most slaves and appeared so.
  4. Explain the following: “Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the  jaws of slavery.” While some slaves were well-enough off to experience periods of elation, it was never so for Douglass.
    Chapter III relates several anecdotes that tell readers more about plantation life and the thinking of slaves.
  5. What is ironic about Colonel Lloyd’s treatment of his horses compared to the treatment of his slaves? It is ironic that Colonel Lloyd demanded the best treatment of his horses (animals) while he had those who cared for them (humans) whipped for lacking in the least.
  6. What happened to the slave who told Colonel Lloyd the truth about his master? Lloyd had him sold to a plantation in Georgia where slavery was rumored to be more brutal. It was a deterrent for many slaves.
  7. What is a maxim? Give an example. A maxim is a basic rule of behavior like the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  8. Discuss the irony of the prejudice among slaves on different plantations. Ironically, slaves from less affluent plantations were envious of those from richer plantations because they believed they had better conditions.

Chapter IV tells readers more about overseers and relates incidents of slave murders.

  1. Why is Mr. Austin Gore a “first-rate overseer”? What is the irony of this description of him?

Gore is described as a “first-rate overseer” because he was so cruel. The irony is that this  vices are presented as being good.

  1. What reason does Mr. Gore give for killing Demby the slave? He killed him as a warning to other slaves to obey.
  2. What other examples does Frederick give of his statement “that killing a slave, or any colored person, . . . is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community” (p. 41)?

One example of this quotation are how Thomas Lanman killed a slave with a hatchet and bragged about it laughing. Another is how Mrs. Gile Hicks beat a teenaged slave girl to death for falling asleep while babysitting.

Chapter V examines Fredrick’s life as a slave child and discusses his leaving the plantation.

  1. Why was Frederick so happy to be leaving the plantation? He thought it was Divine Providence because slaves in more urbanized areas were generally treated better.
  2. Why did he particularly want to go to Baltimore? Frederick thought Baltimore was a great place from descriptions of his cousin Tom.
  3. What relationship did his new master have to his old master? Hugh Auld was Captain Anthony’s son-in-law’s brother.
  4. What were Fredrick’s initial impressions of his new mistress, Mrs. Sophia Auld? To Frederick, Mrs. Auld seemed to be one of the first white people to even look upon him with kindness.

Chapter VI

  1. To what does Douglass attribute the kindness of Mrs. Auld? To Douglass, Mrs. Auld’s kindness was a sign that she had never owned or been in control of a slave herself. He thought that owning a slave ruined a person’s soul.
  2. Why does Mrs. Auld change, according to Douglass? Her attitude change when she was admonished by her husband for teaching Frederick to read. Mr. Auld told her it was acceptable to own slaves because they could not read the Bible and were, therefore, savage.
  3. Why does Douglass call Mr. Auld’s forbidding his learning to read “invaluable instruction”? It ques him to the fact that there was power in it. As such, he continued.
  4. What does Douglass hope to gain from learning how to read? By learning how to read, Douglass hopes someday of being free.
  5. Why is the life of a city slave better than the life of a plantation slave? Life of a city slave was better because there was not the ominous labor and grim associated with slavery on a plantation.

Chapter X

Douglass recalls that he spent his hardest times as a slave during his first six months rented to Covey. Douglass becomes deadened by work, exhaustion, and Covey’s repeated punishments. Douglass loses his spirit, his intellect, his desire to learn, and his natural cheerfulness. Give specific examples of Douglass’ hardships. Life under Covey was very bad at times. On a sweltering August day, Frederick collapsed from heat exhaustion. Covey beat him so severely that he ran to Auld for help seven miles away. When he was returned to Covey the next day, he was to be beaten again. One time he tried to escape and was caught by whites in a shipyard. They beat him within an inch of his life and nearly lynched him.

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