Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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.