The goal of this assignment is to read closely a slave narrative, and to analyze how the author of that narrative describes slavery and their resistance to it. Write a four- to five-page paper (typed, 12-point font, 1” margins) about either Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, or Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (to conceal her identity, Harriet Jacobs published her narrative under the pseudonym Linda Brent.) This paper does not require a works cited page, but you should cite page numbers for quotations from the narratives. Submit a hard copy of your paper in class and upload a digital copy to SafeAssign on BlackBoard.
Your paper must contain a thesis, and must support that thesis with evidence from the text. Your paper will be graded on your argument, your use of evidence to support that argument, and your writing.
You can read these slave narratives at:
I encourage you to read the narratives in their entirety, but…
The key passages in Douglass’s narrative are chapters 1, 2, 5-7, 10-11.
The key passages in Jacobs’s narrative are chapters 4-6, 9-10, 13-15, 21, 28.
Here are three paper prompts on these narratives:
1. Frederick Douglass struggled to understand and explain what Douglass called, “the white man’s power to enslave the black man.” How did slave owners keep their slaves in bondage? What powers and tactics did slave owners use to maintain slavery and to prevent slaves from rebelling or escaping? Physical coercion? Psychological manipulation? What, if any, leverage did slaves have to resist?
2. Frederick Douglass’s autobiography contains a clear plot, which traces his journey from slavery to freedom. In his words, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” What are the key turning points in this plot? How does Douglass resist enslavement? What enables him to make the transition from slavery to freedom?
3. Harriet Jacobs writes that, “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own.” How is slavery worse for women? How did Jacobs struggle to resist her master and the institution of slavery?