What Is "The Battle With Mr. Covey?"

“The Battle with Mr.Covey” is a chapter in Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” The chapter covers Douglass’ experience with a slave owner by the name of Mr. Covey. Douglass was mistreated severely by Mr.Covey emotionally and physically, with constant verbal abuse and whippings. The battle refers to the moment when Douglass fought with Mr.Covey to stop the whippings, a battle which resulted in Douglass running away.

While the climax of the story is the moment Douglass fought with Mr. Covey, the entire battle also encapsulates the emotional turmoil Douglass experienced as he fought Mr. Covey’s attempts to transform him into a slave. Douglass described the emotional warfare that occurred between him and Mr. Covey before the fight, during which Douglass resisted Mr. Covey’s assertions that he could only be a slave. The physical whippings administered by Mr.Covey were used as reinforcement to his verbal abuse. Mr. Covey was known for breaking down difficult slaves and was a harsh slave owner. Douglass uses the experience as a catalyst triggering his desire for freedom. The final battle involved a prolonged fist fight that drew blood from Mr. Covey, but none from Douglass. Douglass remained a slave of Mr. Covey for six months after the fight, but Covey was whipped him again.