Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

How did Douglass live his life as a heroic example to others?

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I think that Douglas's resistance to what was imposed on him and his understanding that education will break slavery was quite heroic. Douglass's encounter with Edward Covey, which reveals "how a slave was made a man," demonstrates that his commitment to nonviolent resistance was crucial in securing his passage to manhood and self-actualization. Douglass was a paragon of patience, endurance, and fortitude. Although passionately roused on behalf of himself and his fellow slaves, he had a remarkable ability to channel that anger into healthy forms of resistance characterized by wisdom and maturity. He did nothing spontaneous or irrationally. He did not burst out in violence or rage and jeopardize his plans to escape or to attain literacy. His anger was calm and cool. In his epochal battle with Covey, keen readers will note that he did not actually fight back; he kept Covey from whipping him and gaining the upper hand. This resistance finally broke Covey, and the fight ended with neither man essentially victorious. What resulted from the fight, however, was Douglass's realization of manhood and autonomy. Thus, resistance in the Narrative centers on nonviolence and patient endurance. It is not rash or violent. Even though Douglass makes it clear that any man who wants to beat him must be prepared to kill him, he is not aggressive for aggression's sake. His path to individuality and fullness of self is not paved with blood.