The Battle With Mr. Covey

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-from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

1. Although Douglass’s book is non-fiction, he successfully uses several literary

techniques. Of what literary devices are the following lines:

____________________ “...I fell, and felt as if held down by some immense weight.”

____________________ “After lying there about three quarters of an hour, I nerved myself up

again, and started on my way, through bags and briers, barefooted and bareheaded, tearing my

feet sometimes at nearly every step...”

____________________ “I then presented an appearance enough to affect any but a heart of iron.”

____________________ “On this morning, the virtue of the root was fully tested.”

____________________ “He trembled like a leaf.”

____________________ “...that he had used me like a brute for six months...”

____________________ “It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom...”

____________________ “...I experienced...repelled by force the bloody arm of slavery.”

____________________ “It was a glorious resurrection from the tomb of slavery to the heaven of


2. What is the purpose of incorporating the above literary techniques? What do they add to the passage?

3. How far did Douglass have to walk from Mr. Covey’s house to see Master Thomas? _______________

How long did it take him? ________________

What was his walking speed in miles per hour? _______________

What does this show?

4. The root that Douglass receives from Sandy is thought to hold magical protective properties. The root

itself, of course, is not magic, but it does become a talisman for Douglass, who ultimately triumphs

over Mr. Covey. Symbolically, what does the root represent? Why does it see to work?

5. When Douglass finally returns, why doesn’t Mr. Covey immediately attack him, as Douglass had

feared he would?

6. Who is Bill Smith?

Is he heroic, foolish, or both?

Explain your answer.

7. Douglass was just 16 years old when his incident took place. Two years later, Douglass successfully

escaped to New York, where he became a writer and abolitionist lecturer. Does knowing Douglass’s

age change the way you view the fight with Mr. Covey?

Explain your answer.

In what ways might have Douglass’s youth influenced his actions?

8. In the final paragraph, Douglass says, “...I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in

form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” Explain what he means. Use

evidence from the text to support your answer.










Multiple Choice

1. Which characteristic of the passage best indicates to the readers that this informational nonfiction

piece is autobiographical?

A. the use of active verbs B. the use of dialect

C. the description of the conflict D. the point of view of the passage

2. Which word best describes the author of the passage?

A. boastful B. proud C. lazy D. stubborn

3. Which sentence best describes the relationship of the setting to the plot in the selection?

A. The setting provides the main source of conflict.

B. The setting is unimportant to the selection.

C. The setting gives relevance and validity to the conflict.

D. The setting makes it very difficult to believe the author’s story.

4. Which sentence from the passage best represents the rising action?

A. “On hearing the fan stop, he [Mr. Covey] left immediately, and came to the sport where we


B. “On one of the hottest days of the month...Bill Smith, William Hughes, a slave named Eli, and

myself, were engaged in fanning wheat.”

C. “At this moment, I resolved, for the first time, to go to my master, enter a complaint, and ask

his protection.”

D. “The battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave.”

5. Which universal theme is most reflected in this passage?

A. Different races of people never get along perfectly.

B. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

C. Keep your friend’s close, but keep your enemies closer.

D. An individual’s self-worth determines the value of him that others see.

6. How does the author’s style contribute to the tone of the passage?

A. The author’s use of figurative language creates a determined tone.

B. The author’s use of negative language creates a bitter tone.

C. The author’s use of positive language creates a humorous tone.

D. The author’s use of objective language creates an impartial tone.

7. The author’s tone creates what kind of mood for the reader?

A. a mood of empathy B. a mood of suspense

C. a mood of sadness D. a mood of excitement

8. What is the effect of the imagery used to describe Douglass’s feelings in the following sentence:

“It was a glorious resurrection from the tomb of slavery to the heaven of freedom”?

A. It shows that he feels superior to Mr. Covey.

B. It implies that he feels uncomfortable with this new relationship with Mr. Covey.

C. It emphasizes the change in his confidence and self-worth.

D. It suggests he knows he is going to die.

9. With which of the following sentences from the passage contains a fact?

A. “He then gave me a savage kick in the side...”

B. “On one of the hottest days of the month of August, 1833, Bill Smith, William Hughes, a slave

named Eli, and myself, were engaged in fanning wheat.”

C. “My resistance was so entirely unexpected, that Covey seemed taken all aback.”

D. “He trembled like a leaf.”

10. Which of the following best describes the author’s purpose for writing the passage?

A. To persuade employers not to anger their workers.

B. To entertain the reader with an enjoyable story.

C. To describe the life style of slaves in the 1800s.

D. To inform the reader about an inspiring event from his past.

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