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While working for Covey, Douglass' spirits drop lower and lower. When he appeals for help from the Auld family, they ignore him. He fights Covey and actually wins the fight although Covey will not admit to that. When Douglass realizes that he can use "controlled violence" or "self defense" as a means of freeing himself, he also has his spirits lifted and then can focus on the fact that knowledge is the ultimate saving grace for both himself and other slaves. What becomes a specific piece of learning for Douglass becomes a universal idea that knowledge is a way to gain freedom.