Harriet Jacobs went against traditional nineteenth-century values by pursuing a sexual relationship. She chose a relationship with a white man not her "master" to protect her children and her family, to protect herself from the persistent sexual harassment by her owner, Dr. James Norcom (Flint), and to support her own integrity by choosing for herself who would have access to her body. She asserts that enslaved women should be judged by different standards than free white women, that they are forced into "premature knowledge" because of the licentious habits of male slave owners and are then subject to punishment by their jealous wives. In choosing to have a sexual relationship with a white neighbor, Jacobs circumvented Norcom's pursuit, but enmeshed herself in new complications that make this into one of the most remarkable narrativesand livesof the nineteenth century.
For one view of the relationship of Jacobs' choices and nineteenth-century morals, please see my essay, "Representative Woman: Harriet Jacobs and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl."
To protect herself and her family, Jacobs chose to write under the pseudonym Linda Brent. This was not a common practice in slave narratives. It caused some later scholars to doubt that it was a true story and generated speculation that it was a novel written by her editor, Lydia Maria Child. Research conducted by noted Jacobs scholar, Jean Fagan Yellin, and the discovery of correspondence between Jacobs and Amy Post confirmed Jacobs' authorship beyond the doubt of even the most skeptical... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2006, 02). Life of a Slave Girl. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 02, 2006, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Life-Slave-Girl-78097.html
"Life of a Slave Girl" StudyMode.com. 02 2006. 02 2006 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Life-Slave-Girl-78097.html>.
"Life of a Slave Girl." StudyMode.com. 02, 2006. Accessed 02, 2006. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Life-Slave-Girl-78097.html.