You have seen how a man was made a slave: you shall see how a slave was made a man

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You have seen how a man was made a slave: you shall see how a slave was made a man.”
Socratic Seminar: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Due: _________________________

Directions: On a separate piece of paper, respond to the following questions, in paragraph form, in order to prepare for the seminar. Work independently, please. Your answers will serve as a ticket into the seminar.

  1. How does Douglass establish his credibility with a white northern audience? Did he compromised too much by not providing more graphic detail of the violence he must have witnessed/experienced? Explain using textual evidence.

  1. Describe the role of Biblical allusions in Douglass’ narrative. How do the stories of Noah’s son Ham, the book of Job, Daniel and the lion’s den, and others comment on the religious foundations of slavery and how bible can be read as either a source of oppression or liberation? Be sure to link the biblical context to the historical situation that Douglass is describing.

  1. “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”

Explain how this quote by the Roman poet Horace connects to Douglass. Use textual evidence and inference to speculate how hardship has helped or hindered the success of Frederick Douglass.

  1. Where Douglass succeeded, many more men and women bound in slavery did not even try. What are the qualities that empower some individuals buy not others? What events caused Douglass to risk all? What values did Douglass possess in order to succeed? Are winner born, or can anyone achieve personal power? Back up your argument with examples from Douglass.

  1. How does Douglass use irony to challenge the ideology of slavery? What were some of the most ironic situations in the narrative? How do these incidents encourage the reader to conclude that slavery is unjust?

  1. That Justice is a blind goddess/Is a thing to which we black are wise:/Her bandage hides two festering sores/That once perhaps were eyes.

Explain how this poem by Langston Hughes connects to Douglass. How has justice turned a blind eye to Douglass and other slaves? What do you think were the most outrageous effects of slavery? Use textual evidence.

  1. Review the apostrophe in Douglass – pages 82-84. What are the objects being personified? Why is personification a well-suited rhetorical device for Douglass to communicate his despair?

  1. Describe how Douglass uses education as a tool for transformation. How does education serve as a way to empower himself and his community? What is the connection between physical freedom and mental/spiritual freedom? Why was it so important to keep slaves from reading? Give evidence from the narrative.

  1. The Narrative of Frederick Douglass contains numerous arguments against slavery. For example, Douglass states that slavery corrupts the moral life of both slave holder and enslaved. Locate 3 examples of this and explain how whites were negatively impacted by slavery.

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