Fredrick Douglas Lesson Summary and Explanation in English Class 11th


‘Frederick Douglass’ an autobiographical story on the life of an American slave is featured in this extract. The story explores the gruesome details of the slaves’ mistreatment at the hands of their white owners.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, popularly known as Frederick Douglass, was born a slave in Maryland, United States of America. With the help of his master’s wife, he learnt to read and write as a child house servant. Later on, he evolved into such a powerful orator that he gathered big crowds. He was a devoted advocate for the freedom of slaves. “Narrative of Frederick Douglass’ Life” was written by Frederick Douglass. “My Bondage” and “My Freedom” and “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” are two of his other autobiographical books.

Harassment Against Racial Groups!

The author begins by describing his birthplace in Tuckahoe. He says that he can’t remember when he was born. He goes on to say that all slaves had this dubiety (uncertainty) regarding their age since their slave lords would keep the slaves in the dark about their age and their families. Frederick was frustrated by his lack of knowledge about his date of birth. He laments the fact that he was born with dark complexion, which denied him the basic right to know his age. 

His mother, Harriet Bailey, was a woman of colour, while his father was a white man. It was believed that a slave’s master was also his father. Frederick was taken away from his mother when he was a baby. This was done to leave very little affection between the kid and the mother. He recalls seeing his mother four or five times throughout his lifetime. Douglass recounts how he was deprived of his mother’s love and the news of her death that he received. The author’s chances of learning who his father was were shattered when his mother died suddenly. He had no way left of knowing if his slave lord was his father.

The idea of slave masters being their fathers, however, did not bring any solace to the children, who were constantly scrutinized by the slave masters’ wives. Slave masters went so far as to sell these infants to flesh dealers in order to appease their white spouses. They would have to either whip their own black children or watch their white sons lash their black brothers if they didn’t do this.

The White Masters’ Atrocities

Frederick Douglass goes on to describe white masters’ misdeeds, including the enslavement of women to their lusts and the perpetuation of this wicked arrangement for the pleasure of their filthy wants. The author describes in exquisite detail how Captain Anthony farms’ supervisor, Mr. Plummer, acted inhumanely. He was a vicious monster, a sad alcoholic, and a vulgar swearer. He would chop and slice the women’s heads so terribly with a cow hide and a big cudgel (stick).

A slaveholder, on the other hand, was a vicious guy who had been hardened by a long life of slavery. He took considerable joy in beating a slave at times. Frederick recalls his aunt being tied to a joist and beaten naked over her back until she was completely covered in blood. He beat because he was so cruel. He was not going to stop until he was exhausted.


Frederick concludes that slavery would not always be able to hold him captive; that even in the darkest hours of his enslavement, his faith and spirit of hope did not abandon him, but stayed like “ministering angels to cheer him through the darkness”. He expresses his gratitude and admiration for this positive energy, which he believes came from God.