The Narrative of Frederick Douglass

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The brother of Thomas Auld. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, Sophia Auld. Douglass comes to work for Hugh when he is fairly young. Hugh prevents his wife from teaching Douglass to read and write because he understands that the institution of slavery perpetuates itself by keeping blacks uneducated, and this, in turn, impresses upon Douglass the importance of educating himself.

Hugh Auld Quotes in The Narrative of Frederick Douglass

The The Narrative of Frederick Douglass quotes below are all either spoken by Hugh Auld or refer to Hugh Auld. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Narrative of Frederick Douglass published in 1995.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man… The very decided manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering… and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn. In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the benefit of both.”

Related Characters: Frederick Douglass (speaker), Hugh Auld, Sophia Auld
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

Shortly after arriving in Baltimore, Mrs. Auld begins to teach Douglass how to read. She only is able to explain up to "words of three or four letters," however, before Mr. Auld learns about this endeavor and forbids Mrs. Auld from continuing. In his vehement declaration that Douglass must not become literate, Mr. Auld unwittingly provides Douglass with the most useful lesson of all: literacy is the key to freedom. Through denying slaves the right to read or write, slaveowners deprive slaves of the knowledge they need to attain freedom from their bondage. Most slaves cannot realize this, however, because few slaveowners describe this phenomenon as directly as Mr. Auld did when he found Mrs. Auld teaching Douglass. This explains why Douglass has uniquely been able to attain literacy, which suggests that Douglass is a genuine representation of all slaves. In his wisdom, Douglass reveals the particular reason for his triumph, as well as crediting both Mr. and Mrs. Auld.

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Hugh Auld Character Timeline in The Narrative of Frederick Douglass

The timeline below shows where the character Hugh Auld appears in The Narrative of Frederick Douglass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...is sent away from the Lloyd plantation in order to live in Baltimore with Mr. Hugh Auld, the brother of Captain Thomas Auld. Douglass leaves joyfully, and eagerly cleans himself up... (full context)
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Fellowship Theme Icon
...and is taken to his new home in Fells Point, near a shipyard. He meets Mr. and Mrs. Auld and their young son, Thomas, whom Douglass is to care for. Douglass is immediately taken... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Fellowship Theme Icon
...begins teaching him his ABC’s, but just as Douglass is beginning to learn to spell, Mr. Auld intervenes. He instructs his wife to prevent slaves from learning at all costs, as it... (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Mr. Auld ’s words affect Douglass deeply, and he realizes that Mr. Auld’s exhortations against educating slaves... (full context)
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
...Douglass concedes that this general rule doesn’t hold in all cases: across the street from Hugh and Sophia Auld live the Hamiltons, who own two female slaves, Mary and Henrietta. Mrs.... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Douglass spends seven years living with Master Hugh’s family. During this time, he manages to teach himself to read and write, despite lacking... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
The Inexpressibility of Enslavement Theme Icon
...to Mrs. Lucretia Auld. He will be sent back to Baltimore to live with Master Hugh and his family. Douglass returns to Baltimore after a psychologically taxing month on the plantation. (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Fellowship Theme Icon
Master Thomas remarries a woman named Rowena Hamilton. Thomas and Hugh have a falling-out, and as a consequence, Douglass is taken from Hugh and sent to... (full context)
Chapter 10
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...down, but resolves to fight Covey, and seizes his master by the throat. Another farmhand, Hughes, comes to help Covey, but Douglass incapacitates him with a kick to the ribs. The... (full context)
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...to Alabama. However, Thomas decides instead to send Douglass back to Baltimore to live with Hugh Auld. (full context)
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Douglass returns to Master Hugh that day, and Sophia cares for his wounds. Hugh is outraged at the violence done... (full context)
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
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With no chance for redress, Hugh nurses Douglass back to health in his home, and then apprentices the slave to another... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
In 1838, Douglass grew dissatisfied with forfeiting all of his earnings to Master Hugh. Sometimes, Hugh would let Douglass keep a tiny fraction of his pay, which only affirmed... (full context)
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...obedient, and not to overthink his role. Douglass is not deterred, and soon asks Master Hugh for the privilege of finding his own freelance work and keeping some of his earnings.... (full context)
The Self-Destructive Hypocrisy of Christian Slaveholders Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
After a few months of this arrangement, Douglass neglects to pay Hugh his weekly tribute on time because he has gone to spend time with friends outside... (full context)
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...the third of September. He works extremely diligently in the meantime, to dispel any of Hugh’s suspicions about an escape attempt. (full context)