Lesson 2: From Courage to Freedom: Slavery's Dehumanizing Effects

One of Douglass's goals in his autobiography is to illustrate beyond doubt that slavery had an insidious, spirit-killing effect on the slaveholder as well as the slave. In other words, in the master-slave relationship both parties suffered, whether it was spiritual corruption, physical pain, or both. Douglass asks his readers to consider the effects of this "peculiar institution" on humanity.

Guiding Questions

How does Frederick Douglass's skilled use of language paint a realistic portrait of slavery?

According to Douglass, what were some of the effects of slavery upon the slave? Upon the slaveholder?

Learning Objectives

In the process of completing this curriculum unit, students will be able to: Analyze and understand a specific type of historical and literary primary document, the slave narrative/autobiography.

Recognize and explain the use and effectiveness of precise word choice, imagery, irony, and rhetorical appeals.

Learn to look for and contrast instances of reality and romanticized myth by using the slave narrative as a source for historical study.

Explore Douglass's argument that slavery is not only dehumanizing to the slave but to the slave-owner.