Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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Alan Flynn
Reading Response 1

“Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” is an autobiography written by Harriet Jacobs and narrated through her alter ego Linda Brent. Brent was a female born into slavery in a small southern town during the 1820’s. This was a time in the United States in which many white southerners bought into and exploited the lucrative business of slave trading and slave labor. Throughout her text Brent explains not only the hardships of growing up as a slave but specifically the awfulness of living as a female slave in America during the mid 1800’s. She wrote this story to inform female white northerners of the terrible situations female slaves were forced to endure in hopes to gain their support in the abolishment of slavery.

Throughout her story Brent describes the physical and more importantly the emotional and psychological abuse that a female slave endures during a lifetime of slavery. Female slaves experienced harsher realities than male slaves because females had additional torture forced upon them that the males did not. These experiences include being sexually harassed and assaulted by their male owners, and forced to bear children only to see them sold away or watch them live a life of misery. It was not uncommon for slave owners to use their females as sex slaves and force them to carry their children. After the child was born it was almost certain that the slave owner would sell their own child as a slave. This enabled the slave owner to make money as well as dispose of the child they did not want or love. When Brent suspects that her master Dr. Flint plans on using her for this very reason she lets herself become pregnant with another man’s child. The man she chooses to father her child is a young white lawyer named Mr. Sands who has shown a recent interest in her. She chose to do this not only to avoid becoming pregnant with Dr. Flints child but with the hopes that the successful white lawyer will buy the child and...
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