Review of "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: A Review
Harriet Jacobs wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl to show Northern free people what was actually happening to slaves. She hoped her eyewitness stories would convince them that they should speak up against slavery and unite in the effort to end it. She was especially interested in showing free white women the difference between her life and theirs. She wanted them to see that many things they took for granted were denied slave girls and women. Jacobs was asking free people to look at slavery through her eyes and imagine the pain, both physical and emotional, that she and other slaves were forced to endure. Even though she was a slave, her first six years were happy ones. Her father had skills that made him valuable to the white people so he was allowed more freedom than the average slave. Her grandmother was the daughter of a slave holder. She was granted freedom but then recaptured. She was allowed to make money by selling crackers after her slave duties were done. An injustice Jacobs describes early in her book is the pain suffered by slave families who are separated when one member is auctioned off to the highest bidder. She tells about this happening to her grandmother who helplessly watched as her son was auctioned off at the age of ten for $720. Jacobs knew the pain of a family being torn apart would weaken a free woman’s stand on slavery. Males were auctioned off more than females because owners were more likely to keep females as sex partners and to father children by them. Slave owners made promises to slaves but never felt obligated to keep those promises. Jacobs’ grandmother had been promised freedom when her mistress died. The executor of the 2 estate, Dr. Flint, instead sold her for $70. In...
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