Narrative Review of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Six Women's Slave Narratives

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Narrative Review of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Six Women's Slave Narratives
African American Women, HIST 3000-A03

While reading the auto-biography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and several of the short stories written in Six Women's Slave Narratives, several recurring themes were mentioned in these very different viewpoints written by very different women with different circumstances, responsibilities and resources at their disposal. All of the women mentioned in these stories suffered greatly, some, like Mary/Molly (The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave) suffered more physically then mentally and others, like Linda's (Incidences) experiences were more mental. In a slave's life, all activity revolved around the master, his whims and his attitude; there were certainly days where he could be kind, gentle and fatherly (and some masters were, undoubtedly, always this way), and others where this ever-present force was cruel and overbearing. Most of the time, escape was the only exit, how that escape came, however, whether by death or running, was another story. For many slaves, escape was risking too much but for those that could risk it all, escape brought forward a new life, maybe the joyous one that they envisioned, maybe not, but either way, the North, Canada and England offered the promise of freedom and a new beginning.

Family was one of the bonds of slavery that both restricted and encouraged slaves; a family allowed for a greater sense of community and self-worth, but the master who owned your body could also own your mother's, brother's and sister's, father's, grandparents', aunt and uncles', husband's and especially your children's. Double true that they owned your children if they were your children's father, unacknowledged, of course. This power held over part or all of your family made it easy for a master, even the kindest of masters who were upon hard times, to sell a family member to pay off a debt or to...
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