"Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"
An analysis of Harriet Jacobs' slave narrative, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl".
# 118193 | 2,084 words | 1 source | MLA | 2009 |
Published on Jan 10, 2010 in Literature (American) , African-American Studies (Slavery) , African-American Studies (Historical Figures) , Women Studies (Historical Figures)
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The paper discusses how Harriet Jacobs, as a runaway slave, came to realize a number of things about the treatment of free Blacks. The paper explains how Jacobs saw that she had traded the slavery associated with an oppressive plantation economy for another, albeit less constrictive, form of slavery in the mercantile-manufacturing economy of the North. The paper explains Jacobs' second realization that the free North was where free men and women sat idly by as the abominations of slavery held sway in the South. The paper shows how Jacobs recognized the deeper implications of race as a political issue in all facets of the culture of the day, regardless of geographic placement, as she saw she was not truly free even in New York. In this way, the paper highlights how Jacob's narrative is a journey toward a freedom, but not toward the full realization of the ideal freedom.
From the Paper:"To many slaves, the free states had long been misrepresented to many of the illiterate slaves, who believe the lies perpetuated by their masters and the stories of the North as a land of starvation, intense labor, and dangerous strangers. Although clearly not a truthful representation, such hegemonic manipulation of this image of the North has a very practical side, as Jacobs points out, since "[m]any of the slaves believe such stories, and that it is not worth while to exchange slavery for such a hard kind of freedom" (488).
"To Jacobs herself, however the North is a densely coded place that signals at once a freedom from the more overt inhumanities associated with slavery, but also a place of hesitations, ambivalences, and silences. Conditioned by Southern culture, and the domestic conditions that had been her lot in life prior to her escape northward, Jacobs recounts her experiences aboard the ship in the chapter "Northward Bound" as being intensely distrustful of the situation in which she found herself."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Gates, Henry Louis, ed. The Classic Slave Narratives. London: Penguin, 1987.
Cite this Book Review:
"Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" (2010, January 10) Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-118193/
""Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"" 10 January 2010. Web. 16 October. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-118193/>