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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


by Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Theme of Friendship

When Frederick Douglass is deciding whether to risk running away to freedom, he finds it hard to leave behind his friends. Many slaves, in fact, preferred to stay enslaved rather than leave their communities for a strange new place. Even though Douglass values friendship, he also wants to remind us that leaving friends behind and striking out on our own is sometimes the right decision.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Why is friendship so important to slaves? Why would some slaves prefer to remain in slavery rather than escape to freedom and leave their friends behind?
  2. Does Douglass have any close friends? Why or why not?
  3. What kinds of white people is Douglass able to make friends with? How?
  4. How do Douglass's friends in the North help him once he is free?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In the South, friends are a problem. When Douglass tries to escape with his friends, one of them betrays the group and prevents the others from escaping. And many slaves never want to escape to the North at all, since they would have to leave their friends behind.

Even though escaped slaves have finally won their independence, ironically they are all the more in need of friends in the North. Without help, they would never be able to hold on to that hard-won freedom.

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