Essay on The Appendix to Frederick Douglass' Narrative

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O th sin th white folks `mitted

when they made th bible lie.

You're lucky that my people

Are stronger than yo' evil,

Or yo' ass, would `a got the heave-ho.

Ice Cube, The Predator

Frederick Douglass certainly knew that his narrative might be taken by many of his readers as a conscious rejection of Christian faith. Accordingly, he informs his readers that the inclusion of an Appendix at the end of his tale should be seen as an attempt to "remove the liability of such misapprehension" from their thoughts. Such an act implies that the Appendix owes its existence to factors lying outside of the narrative, and, indeed, Douglass often utilizes the Appendix to pre-empt criticism by railing against his accusers:

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Discussing religion was doubly dangerous, the theological dimensions to Douglass' tale hard to ignore. Thus audience clamored with author for `voice', making Douglass' relation to the reader an often problematic issue. This is something the author is all too aware of: "It was a severe cross, and I took it up reluctantly. I felt myself a slave, and the idea of speaking to white people weighed me down." (Douglass, 326.)

Douglass' struggle was indicative of the slave-writers' problematic position. Black people, as Henry Louis Gates points out, "had to represent themselves as "speaking subjects" before they could even begin to destroy their status as objects, as commodities, within Western culture" (Gates, 129.) To some extent, this required the adoption of a "white voice", and, in particular, the adoption of a "white" Christian framework. Douglass admits this struggle, comparing himself, tellingly, to Christ before the Crucifixion. (Douglass, 326.) This study will analyze Douglass' treatment of contemporary Christian faith in the Appendix in terms of such a struggle, and will show how, from these contending discourses, Douglass constructed for himself a coherent theological framework.

There is much in Douglass' narrative that displays his more than passing hostility to what he describes as "partial" Christianity, and, indeed, in the Appendix this hostility is unequivocally

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