Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide

Original title:
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself
November 9th 2001 by Dover Publications (first published February 24th 1861)
North Carolina, 1813 (United States)
ISBN 0486419312 (ISBN13: 9780486419312)

“Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” is a novel written in 1961 by Harriet Ann Jacobs. It is an autobiography and presents female outlook into slavery. Being a very sentimental text, it depicts the reality of author living through slavery and buying the freedom for herself and her children.

The author started writing the book right after moving to New York. She wanted the women of the North to expand their knowledge about slavery as an institution because she believed it would strengthen the abolitionist movement. The events in the book were deemed too harsh for an average reader and Harriet had difficulty finding the publisher. In the end, Lydia Maria Child edited and provided the preface for the book, which made publishing possible.

The story is narrated by the first person who uses the pseudonym Linda Brent. She was born a slave, but it didn’t interfere with the family’s ability to give their kid a happy childhood. The girl was taught to read and write. Due to the death of her mother, Linda finds herself in a relative’s home where people are cruel and conditions are exactly what we imagine slavery to be.

The new master Dr. Flint is forcing his way on Linda and she does all she can to outwit and defy him. This makes her fall into the arms of their white neighbor trying to escape the abuse from Dr. Flint. Eventually, she has two children from the neighbor Mr. Sands. Throughout the novel, the woman employs many tricks (including hiding for seven years in the attic) and illusions trying to avoid the worst for her and her children.

Can a powerless slave be judged based on the same moral standards as free people? If the society strips you of your basic rights, can you free yourself from obeying the morals it imposes on you? All these and many other questions are provoked during the reading of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”.

New Essays

Comparing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Our Time

Real writing, soul writing is dangerous; there is an intrinsic, gut-churning element of risk within the process of telling the truth, a risk that yields an adrenaline rush that parallels skydiving and skinny-dipping. The thrill of one's own truth displayed nakedly in little black letters on a...

Essay on Traditions in Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Though considerable effort has been made to classify Harriet Ann Jacobs'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself as another example of the typical slave narrative, these efforts have in large part failed. Narrow adherence to this belief limits real appreciation of the...

A Question of Ethics in 'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl'

In the autobiographical work entitled Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the protagonist, Linda Brent (which is actually a mere pseudonym for author Harriet Jacobs, faces an ethical dilemma that is highly emblematic of one of the core problems of slavery, especially for female slaves...

Women In Slavery in Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl

The notion of slavery, as unpleasant as it is, must nonetheless be examined to understand the hardships that were caused in the lives of enslaved African-Americans. Without a doubt, conditions that the slaves lived under could be easily described as intolerable and inhumane. As painful as the...

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