In 1845, his autobiography ("Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself") was published to great acclaim. He eloquently depicts the dehumanizing effects of bondage, writing what is often considered one of the finest examples of the slave narrative genre. In describing the efforts of an overseer to break his spirit, Douglass turns the tables to show that it was the slaveholders, not the slaves, who were the brutes to be feared. Douglass toured much of the United states and Europe speaking about his experiences and working for the emancipation of slaves.
To build a foundation for college and career readiness in language, students must gain control over many conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics as well as learn other ways to use language to convey meaning effectively. They must also be able to determine or clarify the meaning of grade-appropriate words encountered through listening, reading, and media use; come to appreciate that words have nonliteral meanings, shadings of meaning, and relationships to other words; and expand their vocabulary in the course of studying content. The inclusion of Language standards in their own strand should not be taken as an indication that skills related to conventions, effective language use, and vocabulary are unimportant to reading, writing, speaking, and listening; indeed, they are inseparable from such contexts.
In this brief passage, Jacobs takes us into the world of one enslaved family. You might begin the discussion by encouraging students to describe the scene in their own words. This exercise will require them to focus closely on the details of the episode. As a child Jacobs lived in Edenton, North Carolina, in the eastern, highly agricultural part of the state. This incident likely took place in the yard between the owner’s home and where the slaves lived, a space that would have been occupied by both owner and owned. Ask students to think about what the setting might have been.