September 30th, 2014
Harriet Jacobs and the Assertion of Her Identity
Harriet Jacobs’ narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, not only presents her journey through slavery and her experiences but also shows how she asserted her identity as a woman and resisted the sexual humiliation and exploitation most African American women suffered in slavery. Harriet Jacobs, speaking through her narrator, Linda Brent, reveals her reasons for deciding to make her personal story of enslavement, degradation, and sexual exploitation public. Jacobs was a woman of great dignity, strong will, and aspiring desire. Harriet was considered nothing more than just a slave girl would give anything for the freedom for herself and her two children. Jacobs asserts that slavery is not only about “perpetual bondage” but also about “degradation”. Jacobs indefinitely uses her knowledge as a key to gaining freedom from the bondages of slavery. Her own education provides her with a look at the possibilities of freedom in the North and this her mental capabilities allow her to fight herself free from her obscene master, Dr. Flint. Linda’s actions in this book underscore a theme of the love and support of the black community and especially the community of women and how this community served as a critical component of the struggle for survival and freedom. Harriet Jacobs asserted her identity as a woman and resisted the sexual humiliation and exploitation in her narrative Incidents through control over the situation with Dr. Flint, the risks she took for her children, and through the strength she held while being mistreated. One way in which we see Linda resist the sexual humiliation and exploitation is when she takes control and offers herself to Mr. Sands so that she is able to escape the horrors of Dr. Flint. In desperation, Linda decides to enter into a sexual relationship with Mr. Sands, a white lawyer who has shown an interest in her. Reasoning that...
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