Essay Harriet Jacobs Life of a Slave Girl

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Stephanie J. Turner
Ms. J. Reed
EN 320
5 December 2011
Harriet A. Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Jacobs’s construction of black female empowerment despite the limitations of slavery

Harriet A. Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an autobiography written under the name of Linda Brent. This autobiography is a detailed account of her life or lack thereof. I use the term lack thereof because Harriet Jacobs was raised by her grandmother due to her mother dying at a young age. Harriet was taught to read and write as a young slave girl by her mistress. Harriet’s grandmother was a well-respected older slave woman who gained her freedom in the last will and testament of her mistress. Jacobs is determined not to be raped or surrender all her rights to anyone. Jacobs didn’t know she was a slave until she was almost a teenager. Her mother had passed away and the sad reality of her life as a slave sunk in. Harriet was raised to possess great moral character and virtue. During this time in history black women were “slaves of a slave” (Beal p.13).Frances Beal made that observation due to black women being subservient and degraded by their slave owners and their black men. Not all slave owners allowed their slaves to marry. With that in mind black women often were used and misused by their own race and their masters. Jacobs displays great determination to remain true to chastity despite constant stalking and demeaning remarks by Dr. Flint. In 1842 Harriet Jacobs escapes to freedom, this was at a great price she gave herself willing to the unmarried lawyer next door and bore him two children. Jacobs hid in a 3foot crawl space at her grandmother’s home for seven years. There was no light or room for her to stand up in that small space. Mice and insects crawled on her body and she hid there to avoid Dr. Flint. Jacobs’s story is a testament to what determination and a strong will can produce. Jacobs’s...
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