In his autobiography Douglass makes an important distinction between being a “slave in form” and being a “slave in fact”. He emphasizes the difference lying in that being a slave in form comes from simply living the role of slave whereas being a slave in fact is in relation to how he identifies himself. When he steps away from the identities that have been placed upon him throughout his life and starts forming his own identity through his own self perception he is no longer a slave in fact, although he does unfortunately have to remain a slave in form.
In the contemporary novel Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, readers see the transformation of the young June as she copes with her uncle’s death from the HIV virus. Throughout the novel June attempts to understand the kind of love she felt for her uncle, Finn, the only member of her family who seemed to truly understand her, and how her uncle’s partner, Toby, plays into the way in which her and her family cope with the death of Finn. Set in the 1980’s, June’s family is uneasy with the idea of accepting Toby into their lives due to the stigma around being homosexual. While confronting all of the conflict in her life, the turning point of June’s story happens when one night, during a high school party, she stumbles off alone into the woods to look for her sister who has gone missing from the party. It is during this night in the woods in which June realizes what is important to her and the morals she wants surrounding her. When she leaves the woods, or, leaves nature and comes back to reality so to speak, she has had a profound moment of realization in which she has come to understand not only her feelings towards Toby and the late Finn but her feelings towards the way families interact and how love is supposed to interact within these dynamics. Nature plays a key role in June’s transformation because in order for her to find the answers she was looking for she first needed to become lost amongst the vast emptiness that the woods are.