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A biography and history of harriet jacobs the life of a slave girl

Scholars initially doubted it was written by a slave. Thankfully, Harvard University Press authenticated and published findings of the 1980s, and Jean Fagan Yellin, Harriet Jacobs' biographer, dug up proof of the authenticity of this autobiography through letters and documents. I only regret not having the 1987 Harvard University Press edition edited by Yellin.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Jacobs seemed to anticipate the doubting Thomas, even as she wrote: I This book was first published in 1861 and reprinted in the 1970s. I hardly expect that the reader will credit me, when I affirm that I lived in that little dismal hole, almost deprived of light and air, and with no space to move my limbs, for nearly seven years.

But it is a fact; and to me a sad one, even now; for my body still suffers from the effects of that long imprisonment, to say nothing of my soul. Members of my family, now living in New York and Boston, can testify to the truth of what I say.

Jacobs wrote under the pseudonym: Linda Brent, changing the names of the abolitionists and slave owners who had helped her. Legitimate reason for doubt. Jacobs' reason for changing the names, also understandable. Here's where it gets preposterous: Jacobs' prose was being compared to the male slave narratives.

Instead of being in chronological order hooray for the avid readers of contemporary creative nonfiction who find this clichehers was told according to vivid incidents in her life. In addition, she seemed like the heroine of a romance novel, scholars said.

  • She provides the unique perspective of a woman born into slavery, a woman traded from owner to owner, a woman who escaped slavery, and, most importantly for this essay, a woman who had the utmost faith in God that he would be her rescuer from the life that she was born into and would undoubtedly stay for the remainder of her life;
  • She is famous for several reasons;
  • Gertrude Bruce is Cornelia Grinnel Willis;
  • They are as follows;
  • Jacobs wrote under the pseudonym;
  • Jacobs wrote under the pseudonym:

It was just so unfathomable, that this woman, this slave, could have been chased in such a manner, by an obsessive slave master whose wife mistreated her because she was so insanely jealous of her. Why hide in such a place that resembled a coffin, for so many years, just because your master wanted you as his concubine? It all seemed unbelievable. Jacobs' life was different than most. She was raised by a kind slave owner who educated her, gave her grandmother her freedom, and yet died before Harriet could get her freedom.

  1. Sands shows that even a privileged slave desires freedom above all else.
  2. Ellen Sands is Louisa Sawyer.
  3. Throughout the book, Linda constantly rebels against him and refuses any sexual dealings. Aunt Martha stands up for herself, speaking to the Flints out of her dignity.
  4. Suspecting a sexual relationship between Linda and her husband, she treats the girl viciously. He eventually has another child by his wife and treats that child with more affection than he gave Benny and Ellen.
  5. Linda notes that she has not yet realized her dream of making a home with her children.

She was of mixed race and had a father who also died before buying her freedom. She was never beaten, never saw hard labor, and raised with a keen understanding of the world: I was never cruelly overworked; I was never lacerated with the whip from head to foot…I never had my heel-strings cut to prevent my running away; I was never chained to a log and forced to drag it about, while I toiled in the fields…" When she ran away, this was the posting made by her slave owner: An intelligent, bright, mulatto girl…dark eyes, and black hair inclined to curl; but it can be made straight.

Has a decayed spot on a front tooth. She can read and write. This is the second time I've read this account, but the first time I've captured it in its entirety. Slavery is something that never ceases to baffle me. How could my ancestors have been treated so cruelly, like mere animals, yet trusted with the food and babies of their "owners? Reading this, I paused to consider the many black mothers who raised white families, because when you really consider the intimacy of breastfeeding, you know that black slave mothers were giving white babies the same nutrients from their body that they gave their black babies.

They weren't good enough to eat from their "masters' tables, yet good enough to stick a nipple in their "masters'"mouths. The hypocrisy and irony. In the end, women as a unit, became the victimized. This is what Jacobs seems to imply here, with her themes of women as sex objects, and women as slaves who treated each other as slaves; the black woman and the victimized white woman as her "master.

  1. Not only is the space of the garret one of resistance and freedom for Brent, but it is also a space of confinement and concealment. Family to her must be preserved even at the cost of freedom and happiness.
  2. Sands shows that even a privileged slave desires freedom above all else.
  3. A background provides a great foundation and lets the reading delve into a deeper understanding of who the discussion is really about and what their life was like. At the start of the story, Linda is unaware of her status as a slave due to her first kind masters, who taught her how to read and write.

What Jacobs does in this narrative is speak directly to the issues of women during slavery, the wife, lover, and child something that had not been done in previous narratives. This narrative also highlighted something important for me: The Fugitive Slave Act.

Imagine a life of always being on the run from the law, just because you were demanding your freedom. Previously, slaves could always escape to the North and find refuge. With this act, their southern slave owners could go up north and seize them while they walked to church with their family. What an emotional roller coaster: Many a wife discovered a secret she had never known before--that her husband was a fugitive and must leave her to insure his own safety.

Worse still, many a husband discovered that his wife had fled from slavery years ago, and as "the child follows the condition of its mother," the children of his love were liable to be seized and carried into slavery.

I learned about the Fugitive Act in history classes but never truly grasped the meaning of it until reading this book. I'm just glad that for Black History Month, I could revisit this.