Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Chapter X, Part 2 Summary and Analysis | SparkNotes (2023)

Summary: Chapter X (Continued)

From Douglass' fight with Covey at the end of Chapter X

By coming to a firm determination to flee, we have done more than Patrick Henry did when he decided between freedom and death.

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the fight withGroupcausesdouglasto regain her spirit and defiance, as well as her determination to be free. He is never whipped by anyone during his remaining four years as a slave. Douglass' year with Covey ends on Christmas Day,1833. It is customary for slaves to enjoy their holidays from Christmas to New Year. Slave owners often encouraged slaves to spend their vacations drinking rather than resting or working diligently on their own. Douglass explains that this strategy helps keep blacks enslaved. By giving slaves a small window of time each year to release their rebellious spirit, slave owners keep them in check for the rest of the year. By encouraging them to spend their holidays drunk, slave owners ensure that freedom seems unattractive.

In January1, 1834, Douglass is sent to live with Mr. William Freeland. Mr. Freeland, though ill-tempered, is fairer than Covey. Douglass appreciates that Mr. Freeland is not a hypocritically religious man. Many men in the community profess to be religious, but simply use their religion as justification for their cruelty to their slaves.

Freeland works hard with his slaves, but treats them fairly. Douglass meets and befriends other slaves on the Freeland estate, including intelligent brothers Henry and John Harris. Sandy Jenkins is also living in Freeland at this time, and Douglass reminds readers of Sandy's root and reports that the superstition of Sandy is common among the most ignorant slaves.

Douglass soon gets some of his fellow slaves interested in learning to read. Word soon spreads, and Douglass secretly begins organizing a Sabbath school in a free Negro's hut. It is a dangerous undertaking, as it is forbidden to educate slaves; the community violently closes a similar school run by a white man. However, the slaves value their education so much that they attend Douglass' school despite the threat of punishment.

Douglass' first year with Freeland goes off without a hitch. Douglass remembers Freeland as the best teacher he ever had. Douglass also attributes the comfort of the year to his solidarity with the other slaves. Douglass remembers that he loved them and that they operated together as a community.

Although Douglass remains in Freeland for another year in1835Right now, he wants his freedom more strongly than ever. Here Douglass plays with the comforts of living with "Freeland" as his teacher and his strongest desire to live in "free land". Douglass, determined to try to escape at some point in the year, offers his fellow slaves the chance to join him. Douglass remembers how overwhelming the odds were for them. He describes his position as facing the bloody figure of slavery and catching a glimpse of the dark, gaudy figure of freedom in the distance, with the middle path filled with suffering and death. Douglass points out that his decision was much more difficult than that of Patrick Henry, whose choice between death and a life of oppression – “Give me liberty or give me death” – was merely rhetorical. As slaves, Douglass and his companions had to choose dubious freedom over almost certain death.

The escape party consists of Douglass, Henry and John Harris, Henry Bailey and Charles Roberts. Sandy Jenkins initially intends to tag along, but ultimately decides to stay. They plan on canoeing the Chesapeake Bay the Saturday before Easter. Douglass writes travel passes, signed by his professor, for each of them.

On the morning of their planned escape, Douglass works in the fields as usual. He is soon overcome by the feeling that his plan has been betrayed. Douglass tells Sandy Jenkins about being afraid of him, and Sandy feels the same way. During breakfast, William Hamilton and several other men arrive at the house. They grab and tie Douglass and the rest of the escape party. The men transport their prisoners to Thomas Auld's house. Along the way, Douglass and the others talk and agree to destroy their application passes and admit nothing.

At Thomas Auld's house, Douglass and the others discover that someone has betrayed them. Douglass writes that they knew immediately who the traitor was, but does not reveal who they suspected. The men are put in prison. The slave traders arrive to tease and value them as if they were going to sell them. At the end of the Easter break, all the slaves except Douglass are brought home. Douglass remains in prison because he is identified as the ringleader and instigator. He starts to despair. Early on, Thomas Auld announces his intention to ship Douglass to Alabama. Auld then suddenly has a change of heart and sends Douglass back to Baltimore with Hugh Auld.

In Baltimore, Hugh Auld apprentices Douglass to a shipbuilder named William Gardner. Douglass will learn the trade of caulking ships. However, with Gardner's shipyard struggling to meet a deadline, Douglass helps seventy-five different carpenters and learns no new skills. The carpenters are constantly calling and yelling at Douglass, who cannot help them all at once. Tensions in the shipyard rise when white carpenters suddenly go on strike to protest the free black carpenters Gardner hired. Gardner agrees to fire the free black carpenters. As an unfree apprentice, Douglass continues to work at Gardner's, but suffers severe physical intimidation from the white apprentices.

One day, four white interns attack Douglass in the shipyard, nearly destroying his left eye. He starts to defend himself, but gives up, since lynching law states that any black man who beats a white man can be killed. Douglass complains instead to Hugh Auld, who is surprisingly outraged on Douglass' behalf. Auld takes Douglass with him to see a lawyer, but the lawyer informs them that no warrant can be issued without a white male's testimony.

Douglass spends time at home recovering, and later becomes an apprentice at Hugh Auld's own shipyard. Douglass quickly learns to caulk from Walter Price and soon earns the highest salary possible. Every week, Douglass gives his entire salary to Hugh Auld. Douglass likens Auld to a pirate who is "entitled" to Douglass' wages only because he has the power to force Douglass to hand them over.


The second half of Chapter X continues to alternate between personal accounts and public arguments against slavery. Douglass moves from a personal account of the remainder of the year under Covey to a general analysis of the "holidays" that slaveholders give their slaves between Christmas and New Year's. Generally, the public, or persuasive sections of theNarrativeit usually refutes arguments for slavery, makes arguments against slavery, or misleads readers with misinformation or misinterpretations of slaveholder practices. Douglass' analysis of the vacation period falls into the latter category. To the uninformed observer, it would seem good for slave owners to give their slaves vacations. Douglass explains, however, that this apparent benevolence is part of the broader power structure of slavery. Slave owners use vacation time to make their slaves unhappy with "freedom" and to keep them from rebelling.

Read more about the narrative structure of this book.

The figure of William Freeland stands in direct contrast to the other slaveholders in Douglass' history.Narrative.All of Douglass's previous teachers shared one or both of these traits: hypocritical piety or inconsistent brutality. Douglass presents Freeland as a good slave owner because he lacks these two vices. Freeland makes no religious claims and is consistent and fair in its treatment of its slaves. However, while Freeland is a good model for a slave owner, Douglass makes it clear that slave ownership in any form is still unfair. He signals his dissatisfaction with Freeland in a pun on Freeland's name. Rather than equating "Freeland" with "free land", Douglass uses the pun to point out that belonging to "Freeland" is not as good a guarantee as living in "free land".

Read more about slavery as a perversion of Christianity.

Douglass's experience under Freeland is also positive because he develops a social network of fellow slaves during this period. Except for his friendship with the local boys in Baltimore, Douglass has been a figure of isolation and alienation inNarrative.As an isolated figure, he appropriately resembles the protagonist of a traditional coming-of-age story. These autobiographical stories tend to privilege a model of heroic individualism over social interaction and support. However, in Chapter X, Douglass reveals the close friendships he develops in the Freeland household and shows that he depends on his friends for support. This social support model competed with the heroic individualism model until the end of the Douglass era.Narrative.For example, Douglass' first escape attempt involves several people and fails, while presenting his successful escape as the act of one individual.

Read more details about Douglass life.

In his prefaces to DouglassNarrative,Garrison and Phillips place Douglass in the context of the American revolutionaries' battle for rights and freedom. Douglass himself uses this context in Chapter X when he specifies that runaway slaves act more courageously than Patrick Henry. Douglass alludes to Henry's famous statement, "Give me liberty or give me death." As Henry is faced with a choice between political independence and oppression, the runaway slaves must choose between two unattractive options: the familiar evils of slavery and the unknown dangers of escape. While Garrison and Phillips draw a direct connection between Douglass and the revolutionaries, Douglass uses a reference to the revolutionaries to highlight the differences between the plight of the slaves and the glamor of the revolutionaries' battle for rights.

Read more about the Patrick Henry reference and what it means.

For Douglass, the difference between revolutionaries and slaves is magnified by the fact that slaves do not benefit from the citizenship rights that revolutionaries fought for. When four of Gardner's white apprentices attack Douglass, Douglass has neither the right to defend himself nor the right to punish his attackers for the crime. Douglass wryly portrays his master Hugh Auld as naively surprised and outraged to hear the lawyer say that a slave has no right to testify against a white man. The irony with which Douglass writes about American "human rights" in theory and practice also seems to be present in theNarrativecaption,An American slave.HeNarrativeHe goes on to show that the words "American" and "slave" are contradictory: the rights conferred by the designation "American" are non-existent for slaves.

In Chapter X we see Douglass working for a paycheck for the first time. Before, his work translated into invisible earnings for his masters, but when he starts to work as an apprentice in shipyards, he starts to receive the monetary value of his work. However, Douglass must deliver these wages to Hugh Auld every week. The physical presence of the money Douglass earns from his work reinforces his sense of the injustice of slavery. Hugh Auld comes to resemble a thief who steals what is not his, rather than an owner of property from which he profits.

Read more on the subject of slaves as property.


What is chapter 2 of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? ›

Summary: Chapter II

Colonel Lloyd employs Captain Anthony as superintendent, meaning that Anthony supervises all of Lloyd's overseers. Lloyd's plantations raise tobacco, corn, and wheat. Captain Anthony and his son-in-law, Captain Auld, take the goods by ship to sell in Baltimore.

What is the brief summary of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? ›

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is an autobiography by Frederick Douglass that was first published in 1845. Douglass escaped from slavery in 1838 and became a prominent abolitionist, orator, and writer. His autobiography describes his experiences under slavery and his eventual freedom.

What happens in chapter 10 of Frederick Douglass? ›

In Chapter X we see Douglass working for wages for the first time. Previously, his labor translated into invisible profit for his masters, but when he begins apprenticing at shipyards, he begins to receive the monetary value of his labor. Douglass must turn over these wages to Hugh Auld each week, however.

What is the narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass quotes chapter 10? ›

Chapter 10

Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!”

What was Frederick Douglass main message? ›

Douglass's goals were to "abolish slavery in all its forms and aspects, promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the COLORED PEOPLE, and hasten the day of FREEDOM to the Three Millions of our enslaved fellow countrymen." How else did Douglass promote freedom?

What two things did Frederick Douglass teach himself? ›

At an early age, Frederick realized there was a connection between literacy and freedom. Not allowed to attend school, he taught himself to read and write in the streets of Baltimore. At twelve, he bought a book called The Columbian Orator.

What are 3 important things Frederick Douglass did? ›

He published three autobiographies, spent years writing and editing an influential abolitionist newspaper, broke barriers for African Americans in government service, served as an international spokesman and statesman, and helped combat racial prejudice during the Reconstruction Era.

What is Frederick Douglass most famous quote? ›

#1 “If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

What happens in chapter 10 of educated? ›

Summary: Chapter 10: Shield of Feathers

Once again, the family is involved in a car accident on the way home, while driving under dangerous conditions. Tara suffers a neck injury. A short time after the accident, her older brother Shawn moves home again in order to help her father.

How did Covey break Douglass? ›

Covey attempted to break the bodies and spirits of slaves; within a week, Covey whipped Douglass savagely. “Mr. Covey gave me a very severe whipping, cutting my back, causing the blood to run, and raising ridges on my flesh as large as my little finger,” Douglass later reported.

What is chapter 11 of Frederick Douglass about? ›

In Chapter XI, Douglass turns the tables, refusing to educate slaveholders about the means of his escape or about how slaves escape in general. Douglass does not want slaveholders and slave catchers to stop slaves from escaping in the future.

What is the turning point in Ch 10 of Frederick Douglass? ›

In Chapter X, Douglass describes a battle he had with a temporary slave owner named Mr. Covey. After the fight concludes, Douglass writes, “This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning point in my career as a slave.

What is an important quote from chapter 10 of the outsiders? ›

I'd go home and walk by the lot, and Johnny would be sitting on the curb smoking a cigarette, and maybe we'd lie on our backs and watch the stars. He isn't dead, I said to myself. He isn't dead. And this time my dreaming worked.

What are important quotes in chapter 10 Lord of the Flies? ›

Lord of the Flies Chapter 10 Quotes
  • "I wasn't scared... I was—I don't know what I was."
  • "You were outside. Outside the circle. You never really came in. Didn't you see what we—what they did?"
  • "I'm frightened. Of us. I want to go home. Oh God, I want to go home."
Dec 14, 2021

What was Douglass view on slavery? ›

1. Slavery. In his narratives, speeches, and articles leading up to the U.S. Civil War, Douglass vigorously argued against slavery. He sought to demonstrate that it was cruel, unnatural, ungodly, immoral, and unjust.

What did Stephen Douglass believe about slavery? ›

Famous for defeating Abraham Lincoln in the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign and losing to him in the presidential contest two years later, Douglas believed in white supremacy, opposed the abolition of slavery and basic civil rights for Blacks, and profited from a slave plantation in Mississippi that his wife inherited from ...

Why did Frederick Douglass want to end slavery? ›

Douglass believed that the right to liberty was a natural right, which had been clearly articulated in the Declaration of Independence. Disagreeing with Garrison, Douglass further believed that those who wrote the U.S. Constitution had intended to put slavery on a course of ultimate extinction.

How did Frederick Douglass learn about slavery? ›

Frederick Douglass was born in slavery to a Black mother and a white father. At age eight the man who owned him sent him to Baltimore, Maryland, to live in the household of Hugh Auld. There Auld's wife taught Douglass to read. Douglass attempted to escape slavery at age 15 but was discovered before he could do so.

What age did Frederick Douglass escape slavery? ›

At the age of 20, after several failed attempts, he escaped from slavery and arrived in New York City on Sept. 4, 1838. Frederick Bailey, who changed his last name to Douglass soon after his arrival, would later write in his autobiography, “A new world has opened upon me.

How many slaves did Frederick Douglass free? ›

Answer and Explanation: Frederick Douglass was a runaway slave who became one of the most influential abolitionists in the years leading up to the Civil War. Through his work with the Underground Railroad, it is estimated that at least 400 runaway slaves were helped by Douglass and his wife.

What was Douglass most important lesson in his life? ›

Douglass narrative teaches about self-determination and courage. Despite the suffering he underwent under different slave-masters including in Covey's hand, he did not lose hope. He was determined to escape whether it meant losing his life. It is this determination that would help slaves overcome the unending slavery.

When did slavery end? ›

Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

What are some quotes about slavery from Frederick Douglass? ›

Frederick Douglass quotes about slavery

Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? “I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.

What are 2 facts about Frederick Douglass? ›

He published three autobiographies, spent years writing and editing an influential abolitionist newspaper, broke barriers for African Americans in government service, served as an international spokesman and statesman, and helped combat racial prejudice during the Reconstruction Era.

What is Chapter 1 of Frederick Douglass about? ›

Summary and Analysis Chapter I. Douglass begins his Narrative by explaining that he is like many other slaves who don't know when they were born and, sometimes, even who their parents are. From hearsay, he estimates that he was born around 1817 and that his father was probably his first white master, Captain Anthony.

What kind of easy and delightful 2 speech does Douglass wish he could present? ›

What kind of “easy and delightful” speech does Douglass wish he could present? He wishes he could express gratitude for the benefits of the Declaration of Independence, a speech that is positive for the people.

What is Douglass arguing in his speech? ›

He argues that slavery's existence renders American “republicanism a sham;” yet he refuses to label as hypocrisy the assertion of human equality in the Declaration of Independence. [Indeed, the first half of the speech gives an eloquent account of the founding fathers' fight for liberty.]

Did Frederick Douglass believe in slavery? ›

Slavery. In his narratives, speeches, and articles leading up to the U.S. Civil War, Douglass vigorously argued against slavery. He sought to demonstrate that it was cruel, unnatural, ungodly, immoral, and unjust.

Why did Douglass keep his first name? ›

The newly freed Douglass understood that his name was inseparable from his identity and chose to retain his first name.

What did Douglas believe about slavery? ›

Famous for defeating Abraham Lincoln in the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign and losing to him in the presidential contest two years later, Douglas believed in white supremacy, opposed the abolition of slavery and basic civil rights for Blacks, and profited from a slave plantation in Mississippi that his wife inherited from ...

Who is Douglass's first master? ›

He believed that he was born about 1817, but a ledger for Captain Aaron Anthony, Douglass' first master, lists Fredrick Augustus, son of Harriot, born February 1818. Frederick's mother was hired out by Anthony and only saw young Fredrick four or five times in his life.

What did Frederick Douglass say about slaves? ›

You may put the chains upon me and fetter me, but I am not a slave, for my master who puts the chains upon me, shall stand in as much dread of me as I do of him.

How does Frederick Douglass use metaphor? ›

In it, Douglass compares a personal victory to coming back from the dead: “It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom.” By connecting a physical victory with a victory of the soul, this metaphor helps readers understand the depth of Douglass's feelings.

What rhetorical device does Frederick Douglass use? ›

In this sentence, Douglass uses alliteration through his repetition of the letter “s”. By employing this rhetorical device, he conveys the idea that a slave lives powerlessly and in solitude, allowing the reader to better understand the suffering that he has experienced throughout his life.

What does Douglass mean when he says the blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common? ›

What does Douglass mean when he says, “The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common”? While white men and women are celebrating their independence as a country, African-American men and women are still fighting for theirs from those very same white men and women.

What is Frederick Douglass trying to say in his speech? ›

In this Independence Day oration, Douglass sought to persuade those people to embrace what was then considered the extreme position of abolition. He also sought to change minds about the abilities and intelligence of African Americans.

What is the tone of Frederick Douglass speech? ›

tone Douglass's tone is generally straightforward and engaged, as befits a philosophical treatise or a political position paper.


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