Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.
Curriculet Details
63 Questions
18 Annotations
12 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum, written for students in grades 8 and up, explores the role of literacy and education in liberation. The questions in this interactive online unit draw students’ attention to the how and why of racism and slavery, imploring them to read deeply, infer, and draw conclusions from the text. Instructional annotations and videos are included on Frederick Douglass, as well as the subjects of internal versus external conflict, irony, lynching, the abolition of slavery, the Underground Railroad, and literary allusions to poems referenced by Frederick Douglass. Common Core questions and answers support students as they navigate Douglass’s heart-wrenching slave narrative.

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Chapter 1

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.9
Why would a slave who wants to know his age be considered improper, impertinent, and restless?  
Why is it a privilege to know your age? 
Does it surprise you that the speaker, a slave, has a father who is white? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
This line means that 
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Why would a child born of a slave master be "a constant offence to their mistress"?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What is being conveyed by this line?  
Chapter 1 Quiz 

Chapter 2

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Which of the following is the underlying reason slaves were sent to Baltimore to be sold? 
This short video contains some background information about Frederick Douglass.  (This annotation contains a video)
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What does this line mean? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
When they were on their way to the Great House Farm, slaves would sing the song: "I am going away to the Great House Farm! O, yea! O, yea! O!" Douglass says,"I have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of those songs would do more to impress some minds with the horrible character of slavery, than the reading of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject could do." What does he mean by this?  
This line references a line from a poem called by the English poet William Cowper. You can read the poem by clicking the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Chapter 2 Quiz 

Chapter 3

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Given that everything depended on "Colonel Lloyd's own mind when his horses were brought to him," one could infer that  
Chapter 3 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does "a still tongue makes a wise head" mean?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Do you think there is a time when it's better to talk than remain silent? Explain your answer.  
How is it ironic that slaves would argue with each other about the worth of their masters? 

Chapter 4

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.6
According to modern definitions of justice, what is missing from this statement?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Mr. Gore is 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
At times, Douglass's tone goes from matter-of-fact to  
Chapter 4 Quiz 

Chapter 5

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
This sentence contains which literary device?  
Douglass gives and interesting detail here: he says he had no idea what month or year it was. What does this detail reveal about his life, the lives of other slaves, or slavery in general? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How does Douglass think his life would have changed if he hadn't been sent to Baltimore?  
The word providence is used to talk about acts of God. 
Chapter 5 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Which of the following literary devices are used in this sentence?  

Chapter 6

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
The jump from the first paragraph to the second utilizes which of the following literary devices?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What does Douglass attribute the white man's power to enslave the black man to?  
This short clip explains the idiom "If you give someone an inch, they'll take a mile." (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 6 Quiz 

Chapter 7

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
Explain why "education and slavery were incompatible with each other."  
How interesting it is to think that this book would never have been written -- that Frederick Douglass literally wouldn't have been able to write it -- if Douglass hadn't been "given the inch!" 
Think of how valuable education is to Douglass, how he sought books like food, to nourish and grow his mind, and how much of an impact reading had on his life. Is this still the case? Are the students you know as eager to learn as Douglass was in his time? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
As Douglass read more about human rights, he grew to ________________  slaveholders.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Mr. Hugh ______________ Douglass's response to becoming educated.  
This statement may sound redundant, but it's not. What does Douglass mean here? 
How much do you know about the abolitionist movement? To learn more, click below: (This annotation contains a link)
Chapter 7 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Consider all the stories and specific descriptions Douglass weaves into the narrative about learning to write. Choose the word that best describes what it took him to write the way he does. 

Chapter 8

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
The purpose of this image is to make it clear that _________ were considered equal to __________.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Here, Douglass means 
Listen to John Whittier Greenleaf's poem. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Which of the following phrases from the Whittier poem best encapsulate the sentiment Douglass attributes to his grandmother?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Why do you think the chances of escaping the city are greater than the chances of escaping the country?  
Chapter 8 Quiz 

Chapter 9

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
What is the difference between the Aulds and the Hughs?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What does it mean to find religious sanction for cruelty?  
Chapter 9 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Which of the following is Douglass's biggest motivating factor in Chapter 9?  

Chapter 10

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why was Douglass sent to Mr. Covey's?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Douglass uses a lot of ________________ in this passage.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Which two qualities of Mr. Covey's does Douglass remark on here?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What do you think made Mr. Covey so successful at breaking in slaves?   
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why did the sight of boats fill Douglass with so much sadness?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5
Douglass's use of the word "you" here serves to  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Sandy's suggestion that Douglass carry a root in his pocket is _______________. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Explain this quote. How and why was the battle a turning point for Douglass? 
Why did Covey essentially let Douglass get away with hitting and disobeying him?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Douglass describes the holidays at a "safety valve." What does he mean?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
How was Mr. Freeland different from Mr. Covey?  
This video explains a moment of irony in Chapter 10.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Here we see a resurgence of Douglass's passion for reading. What conditions do you think were present at this time for him to revisit the task of reading?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Which of the following statements best explains this line?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
This line contains 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Henry was _______________, but Douglass and John were obedient.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
What was Douglass's biggest fear when he and his friends were in captivity?  
Click below to learn more about lynching. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Why was it impossible to find anyone to testify on behalf of Douglass?  
Chapter 10 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
How do the concepts of life and liberty relate to one another?  

Chapter 11

Conflict is an essential part of literature, and this video will tell you more about the two different kinds of conflict: internal and external.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5
What is Douglass's tone here?  
 (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Here, Douglass is being  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
What is Douglass's internal conflict in this paragraph?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
This line contains which of the following literary devices?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What literary device is being used here?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5
What is the current setting in the book?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
New Bedford, and the north in general, surprises Douglass. Which of these statements summarizes the cause of his surprise?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
Which of the following does Douglass notice about people living in the north?  
Chapter 11 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2
In your own words, please explain what this statement means.  

Appendix Homework

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3
In your own words, explain the difference between the Christianity of Christ and the Christianity of the land.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Here, Douglass is speaking of  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
Douglass's language is different in the Appendix than the body of his book. The book itself is _________________ , while the Appendix is more ___________________.  
Appendix Quiz 

A Parody

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
What is a parody?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
"Pious priests" is an example of   
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
This line contains  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.4
The sing-songy tone of the poem combined with the dark content creates an interesting _______________.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5
Why do you think Frederick Douglass chose to end his book this way?