Review

1/Douglass opens his Narrative by observing that slaveholders strive to keep their slaves ignorant. In what way is that ignorance a torture comparable to the physical suffering endured by slaves? What role do literacy and the acquisition of knowledge play in Douglass’s emancipation?

2/How is the white man a victim of slavery, according to Douglass?

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3/”I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy; / By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms” (lines 506–507). Describe the democratic project of the poem: What does it include? For whom are the things it accepts catalogued, and why? Whom does the poem seem to be addressing, and to what purpose?

4/Whitman’s speaker asks: “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” (lines 1323–25). In attempting to include every American perspective within it, the poem cannot avoid running into contradictions. Yet the voice seems unconcerned about this inevitable consequence of its indiscriminate inclusion. Decide whether or not this lack of concern is a problem for the poem and what it has to say about democracy, and explain your answer.

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