61 pages 2 hours read

Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1845

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Teacher Introduction

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

  • Genre: Nonfiction; autobiography; slave narrative
  • Originally Published: 1845
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 1140L; grades 9-12; college/adult
  • Structure/Length: 11 chapters with preface and introduction; approximately 158 pages; approximately 4 hours, 23 minutes on audio
  • Central Concern: This autobiographical account chronicles the early life of Frederick Douglass, from his birth into slavery in Maryland to his escape to freedom in the North. Through evocative prose, Douglass offers a firsthand account of the brutalities of slavery, his hunger for knowledge, and the burning desire for freedom. The narrative stands as a powerful critique of American slavery and a testament to the indomitable human spirit.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Graphic descriptions of enslavement; depictions of physical and mental abuse, racism, and dehumanization; inclusion of derogatory and offensive racist language; sexual abuse including rape

Frederick Douglass, Author

  • Bio: Born circa 1818, died 1895; former enslaved person who became a prominent abolitionist, writer, and speaker; self-taught; known for his eloquent oratory and incisive antislavery writings; became an international antislavery activist; held various government positions post-Civil War
  • Other Works: My Bondage and My Freedom (1855); Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Guide:

  • Slavery Dehumanizes Everyone Who Is Involved in It
  • Slavery’s Corrosive Effects on Religion
  • Knowledge and Ignorance