Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes

North Star

Polaris or the "North Star" is
at the end of the handle of
the Ursa Minor / Little Dipper constellation

next to Ursa Major / the Big Dipper
(Slave song: "Follow the drinking gourd.")

For earth's northern hemisphere, the "pole star"—a visible star aligned with the planet's axle of rotation—is "Polaris" or "the North Star."

"Polaris" is Latin for "of / near the pole."

Polaris or the North Star was used as a navigational guide at least since late antiquity or before the Middle Ages.

Before the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th Amendment, the North Star served as a guide to slaves in the southern USA seeking to escape to northern states or Canada.

Several texts in American Renaissance and American Romanticism refer to the North Star:

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 10G.6

Reminiscences of Levi Coffin 12, 13

Uncle Tom's Cabin ?



Video of stars apparently streaming while North Star / Polaris apparently stands still:


How may the North Star fit the definition of a symbol?

symbol as image + meaning

image = reality (to senses)

meaning = interpretation of image, location in narrative or other context / network of other symbols that share meaning