Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, By Harriet Jacobs

1172 words - 5 pages

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs strongly speaks to its readers by describing the brutalities of slavery and the way slave owners can destroy peaceful lives. After reading and rereading the story have noticed certain things regarding how Jacobs tries to educate her readers and her intended audience which is the women of the North. As if we do not know enough about how terrible slavery is, this story gives detailed examples of the lives of slaves and provokes an incredible amount of emotions. She uses several tactics in her writing to reach her desired audience and does so very well.

The way she wrote the story does not seem as though she is emotionally connected. Perhaps she was desensitized to such topics due to her own personal experiences and by writing about it causes her to painfully reminisce. It is almost as if she is an omniscient character narrating her life experiences as a slave. When she directly speaks to the reader it is often to state something that others might not know or fully understand. In directing her writing to the women of the North, Jacobs uses examples that can put the reader in her shoes, making them actually see what was occurring in the South.

After the first year of her newly discovered slave life with the Flint family, one of her friends passed away. “I heard her mother sob, as the clods fell on the coffin of her only child, and I turned away from the grave, feeling thankful that I still had something left to love.” (Jacobs 358). This quote speaks to women because everyone knows that losing a daughter, especially an only child, is the worst possible thing a mother could bear. The way she says it in the story almost sounds as if things like this were a common occurrence. We can only infer that her premature death was caused by the harsh life she suffered as a slave. From learning this we know Harriet is not in for a good future with this family. The way Jacobs describes the importance of the women in her life is inspiring, given that, at the time they had such little power and such few rights. “Mrs. Flint, like many southern women, was totally deficient in energy. She had not the strength to superintend her household affairs; but her nerves were so strong, that she could sit in her easy chair and see a woman whipped, till the blood trickled from every stroke of the lash” (Jacobs 360). The way she describes Mrs. Flint perfectly captures what all women in the south were like. This portrays an excellent example to Northern women how serious slavery can affect a person.

Slave owners could completely ruin the lives of slave women and their children with such ease and that is disgusting. The actions that Dr. Flint took can speak for all slave owners. The mistress did not help either; in fact she made it worse for the slave women by displacing her anger towards her husband on the slaves. Whenever Mr. Flint would punish or put them to death, the mistress would mocks the...

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