Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Harriet Jacobs provides a firsthand narrative on the issue of slavery and the injustices associated with the actions made by the men and women who owned slaves. Within the first few pages of her retelling appropriately named “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” the reader is made aware of the long and troublesome plight that Jacobs is made to endure because of the color of her skin. The troubles brought to light by her writing address how being a female slave is particularly more taxing than being a man and how the slave holders respond to any type of resistance. Jacobs historically states that “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.” (Chapter XIV, another Link to Life) Examples of the emotional duress begin with her mentioning a slave mother, who led her children to the auction block knowing full well in her mind that some of the children would be taken, yet all of her children were sold (pg. 22). The bond of motherhood so strongly severed is one of the major points made with the inference that women slaves had it worse than the men. Before this, it was a known fact that all slaves endured the physical abuse yet women had both physical and emotional tolls forced upon them. As Jacobs continues in her narrative, she recalls her master Dr. Flint having”…sworn that he would make me suffer, to my last day for this new crime against him… ” (pg. 88). Because of her position as a slave, she had no say in the circumstances that progressed around her. With her “belonging” to him, she necessarily lived for him. Jacobs’s status as a worker is always expected, but the masters do not allow her or other women to live as mothers and caretakers to human beings. They are allowed to bond and nurture “property”, to raise more workers and then have them used a bribes when something needs to be done. Resistance is silent and discreet to a slave holder. They know that the slaves want to be free and that the...
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