Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Slavery, in my eyes, is an institution that has always been ridiculed on behalf of the physical demands of the practice, but few know the extreme mental hardships that all slaves faced. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs writes autobiographically about her families' and her personal struggles as a maturing "mullatto" child in the South. Throughout this engulfing memoir of Harriet Jacobs life, this brave woman tells of many trying times to keep dignity, family, and religion above all else.
In the life of slaves, daily routines greatly depended on the gender of the slave. A male slave was, who was old enough, was usually found laboring in the field under the hot sun, while female slaves were obligated to do household work, sew, or watch over their master's children. Often times, the young slave girl is ordered to do petty things around the household, like fetching drinks for their masters, or cleaning up after dinner, but as they age, their responsibilities increase greatly. While it seems that men of slavery had the most demanding jobs of this time, my opinion has been swayed by tales of this book. Men were required to work from dawn to dusk, and do not get me wrong, that is an amazing feat, but they could also rest at night because they had no other responsibilities, all the while the women would work all day in the household, tend to their biological family, if they had not been separated, and then often times go back to work in the house until the wee hours of the night, waiting on the master and mistress' every beckoned call. Women of slavery were commonly called upon to nurse their mistresses' children through infancy so that the mother was not troubled in her sleep by her child. These women would often be found sleeping on the floor at the entry of their slaveholders' bedroom, easily awakened and ready to serve the child's every wish. Jacobs speaks of her Aunt Nancy who held this...
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