Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl

1336 words - 6 pages

In the non-fiction book “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” by Harriet A. Jacobs and published in Boston in 1861. The author Jacobs was born into slavery in 1813, in a town called Edenton, North Carolina. Jacob uses the pseudonym Linda Brent to narrate her first person account. The book opens with Jacobs stating her reasons for writing a biography of her life story. Her story is agonizing and she had rather have kept it confidential, although she felt that by making it public that perhaps it might help the antislavery movement. A preface by Linda Child, states in the beginning of the book, “READER, be assured this narrative is no fiction. I am aware that some of my ...view middle of the document...

The black community admires and supports its members in the face of boundless misery and agony.
While slavery was horrifying for both men and women, the latter endured its own particular humiliation. Women, and even young girls found that their bodies were not their own- they were looked upon as sexual objects that lived for their masters to perform their most warped sexual fantasies upon. They were tormented and ridiculed, as in Jacobs’s case, or flat out raped. Many women were forced to give birth to children of their white owners, at the same time being deprived of marriage to the men that they would choose for themselves. Not to mention, any child born to a slave woman would also be a slave, no matter the status of the father. Jacobs notes that slave girls simply did not have the choice of being pure since their purity was under never-ending attack. Slave mothers also felt the suffering and wrenching pain of seeing their children beaten or sold, or, if they were girls, encounter the same anguishes as they did.
The significance of motherhood is one of Jacob’s most salient themes in the course of her story. Jacobs may not have wanted children for the fear of them likely being caught in slavery’s clenches, but her dedication to her children is intensely fierce. Everything she does is for her children’s regard- her running away from Dr. Flint, her years of hardship, pain and solitariness in the crawlspace, her desperate escape to the north, her wage labor in New York. Despite the fact, Jacobs did not have the indigenous life that was idealized during the Victorian era; she was nonetheless shown the all- consuming and undeniable love of a mother for her children that definitely resonated with northern female readers. Motherhood in its uplifting, honest and loving ideal is also expressed in Jacobs’s grandmother.
It is beyond the bounds of possibility to fabricate how horrendous slavery was for slaves. Many were raped, forced to work in terrible conditions for long hours, deprived of family ties, beaten, dealt with harsh weather and often left with little to no food to eat. Jacobs’s entire narrative gives voice to the immorality and the dealings of the system that would eventually set in motion a bloody war and prove intolerable. In “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” Jacobs states, “If you want to be fully convinced of the abominations of slavery, go on a southern plantation, and call yourself a negro trader. Then there will be no concealment; and you will see and hear things that will seem to you impossible among human beings with immortal souls” (Jacobs 81).
On the other hand, her book is also very important in that it speaks to another problem with slavery: it is just as destructive for white people. Certainly, the entire South and even the North were damaged by the cancer of slavery. Slave masters were promiscuous and monstrous, and their...

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