Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs: Part 1: Childhood is important reading for those interested in slavery. It is one of the books that cover the violence that women enslaved experience, but it fictionalizes events in order to portray the subject of female slavery. Linda Brent is the main character the author uses to reinforce the subject in the novel, and through her, she expresses her mind about problems that women face in the culture of her birth. Her father is a carpenter with exceptional skills that give him liberation, despite the fact that her culture is enslaved. The narrator introduces the author to her family including mother, brother, and uncle who was sold at the age of ten years. Throughout, the narrator hides from her master who is lustful of her in the whole story.

Although this is a fictional story, it successfully brings points home through major events. When I read it, I found it to be interesting and educative especially through major themes. Such themes include sexual exploitation, degradation, and personal account of slavery. The author also employs symbolism to help maker her point clear. For instance, Dr. Flint acts as a symbol for the theme of slavery. He is characterized by cruelty, hypocrisy, and convincing. Flint is one character who does what he pleases without questioning. This story is important in understanding sexual abuse as part of slavery that was faced by female slaves.

The story is important because it reveals to me that slavery has had significant effects on the lives of women especially after being sexually abused. For instance, Linda underwent psychological torture even after an act that prohibits slavery was enacted. Another issue it raises is that most slaves starved and many ended up begging to be taken back to slavery where there was at least availability of basic needs such as food and shelter. What this shows me is that most of them had no knowledge about outside world, beyond the vicinity of where they were living (slavery). An example of movies with such message includes the “Precious” that was released in 2009 where people of high classes take advantage of the less privileged.

Work Cited

Jacobs, Harriet Ann. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Ed. Lydia Maria Child. National Cash Register Company, 2002.

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