© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

by Frederick Douglass

Sandy's Root

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Sandy Jenkins offers Douglass a root from the forest that supposedly has magical powers to protect slaves from being whipped. Douglass doesn't seem to believe this, but he wears the root on his right side – as he's told to – in order to appease Sandy. In a footnote, Douglass calls Sandy's belief in the root "superstitious" and typical of the "more ignorant slave" population. In this regard, the root stands as a symbol of a traditional African approach to religion and belief. While we might expect Douglass to be sympathetic toward African traditions, he doesn't really seem to be. As a Christian, he doesn't believe in other forms of spirituality.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement