Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

14. Was Douglass a religious man? Support your position with Douglass’ words.

Frederick Douglass

Narratives of a Slave

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 2
Add Yours

You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you, the turbid waters roll. Go on, go on. O that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! The glad ship is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I'll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. (10.8)

This is one of the most famous passages in the book. There is a lot going on here, but one of the most important is that it's Douglass's crisis of faith, where he demands to know how God can exist if He allows Douglass to be a slave. But instead of turning against God, Douglass turns the problem around: since there is a God, he reasons, God will help him become free. From this point on, Douglass is sure that it's only a matter of time until he gains his freedom.