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Harriet Jacob`s Incident of the life of a slave girl

March 21, 2016 | Author: | Posted in african-american studies, history

Harriet Jacobs ‘ Incident of the Life of a Slave Girl

Harriet Jacobs was one of abolitionists who fought for freedom and equal rights . In her autobiographical narrative Incident of the Life of a Slave Girl , she vividly portrays casualties of life and hardship she was faced with during the years of slavery . A special attention Jacobs gives to relations with her grandmother and importance of parental support and love in life of her children and her attempts to gain their trust

Linda , the main character of the novel , is influenced by her [banner_entry_middle]

br grandmother ‘s ideas and values , worldviews and life hopes . Linda depicts that the world of a slave child is full of pain caused by emotional burden and life expectations which never come true . In this situation the grandmother is a person who supports and directs Linda . It is possible to say that Aunt Martha , a very spirited woman , has a unique personal culture coined during all her life . Her values and ideals are influenced by hardship and slavery , by racial inequalities and by mix of specific worldview of blacks and whites . All these features have a great influence on Linda and her life aspirations

Using the character of a grandmother , Jacobs creates an atmosphere of sufferings and portrays aimlessness of a slave life . The speaker ‘s voice reflects destitution faced by slaves in America : hard work , inequality and absence of racial identity . For instance , after incidents with her masters Mrs . And Mr . Flint , Aunt Martha proposes to purchase Linda and gives her freedom . Linda writes : My grandmother could not avoid seeing things which excited her suspicions . She was uneasy about me , and tried various ways to buy me but the never-changing answer was always repeated “Linda does not belong to me (Jacobs , 2003

Linda has the same down-to-earth attitude to the value of things that her grandmother seems to have . She does not have any class and race prejudice , but sometimes her view of the world can seem excessively based on freedom . The most important is that Aunt Martha , the mother of slaves . teaches Linda how to behavior and makes clear her feeling that they should not forget their humble origins when she becomes free This moment is important , because it is a firsthand feeling of a person who heard and saw the events she writes about . Historical and social context of these events helps readers to imagine a picture of the general idea of injustice through the lens of Linda-Aunt Martha relations

For Linda , Aunt Martha is a mother and a friend who advises and supports her in difficult situations . The grandmother embodies wisdom represented as a keeper of traditions and values . She is the only person Linda entrusts . When Linda falls in love with a free man , she hopes that could escape from Dr . Flint ‘s control . Unfortunately , Dr . Flint uses another tactic to win Linda ‘s heart . In this situation , her grandmother is the only person who can really help Linda and understand her emotional state . Jacobs describes : I think she saw something unusual was the matter with me . She knows there is no security for her children After they have entered their teens she lives in daily expectation of trouble (Jacobs , 2003 . At the beginning , Aunt Martha refuses to help Linda , but when Linda tells her the truth , she does everything possible to support and calm her beloved grandchild . And she did pity me . She did not say “I forgive you ” but she looked at me lovingly , with her eyes full of tears . She laid her old hand gently on my head , and murmured “Poor child ! Poor child (Jacobs , 2003

The relations between Linda and her grandmother are based on the moral and social support . The grandmother helps Linda to survive in this community telling about traditions and taboos of the society . It is possible to say that she lives with the code of toughness as the only way to hold on to honor and the human . Further , Linda accepts full responsibility for her actions trying to free her children from slavery .Her grandmother inherits honesty , warning Linda against casualties of love . In her love for Linda , Aunt Martha shows eternal love of a mother to her child . This tact is evident in her treatment of Linda and other people and in the delicate way she corrects Linda ‘s manners and views Aunt Martha is , above all , a loyal friend who actively helps Linda in her attempts to be free : My grandmother lived to rejoice in my freedom (Jacobs , 2003 . After Linda ‘s son is born , her grandmother and Mr . Sands do everything possible to protect her and her child from Dr Flint

In a time , Linda gives birth to another child , a daughter . She becomes a patient , loving and wise , but on the other hand strong and powerful woman able to protect her children from Dr Flint ‘s attacks . She also has a practical toughness that makes her more convincing than a sentimental portrait of a female . She knows how to defend herself and her children and is not afraid of new attacks . It is a sign of realism that she transfers her love to children

Jacobs depicts times when most slaves had no chance to be free and to undergo hardships then escape . Linda proves that she is a rebellion person who does everything possible to free her children . Dr Flint manipulates Linda and mocks at her proposing freedom for her children against sexual relations with their mother . It is the most difficult decision in her life : morality against freedom and happiness of her children . Jacobs comments Slavery is terrible for men but it is far more terrible for women (Jacobs , 2003

It is important to note that Linda is a devoted mother who does the best for her children regardless of the price , but she has to refuse Dr Flint and agrees to live and work hard in plantation of his son . She supposes that this is the best decision which saves and secures her children from punishment and attacks of Dr Flint . This period of time is the most difficult for Linda unveiling suffering of a slave-mother . She works in the house , but has no time for children . Once her daughter , Ellen , is nearly killed by a poisonous snake . This accident forces Linda to fight and rebel against Dr Flint . She lies to her master saying that her child is ill and sends Ellen to leave with Aunt Martha . Linda describes this day I learned afterwards , that in the afternoon he had killed a large snake , which crept from under the house and I supposed that incident had prompted his unusual kindness (Jacobs , 2003 . These episode shows that love and great care about children are typical things for every mother , and in spite of punishment , Linda sends her child to a secure place without permission of the master

Being a mother , Linda visits her children in town to ensure that everything is fine , and they do not need her help . She writes : I had been three weeks on the plantation , when I planned a visit home . It must be at night , after every body was in bed . I was six miles from town , and the road was very dreary . I laid Benny back in his bed , and dried his tears by a promise to come again soon (Jacobs , 2003 . These events help Jacobs to create a special tone and unmask contradiction arisen in the society . By means of the mother ‘s voice , Jacobs emphasizes the irrational side of slavery and the desperation of humanity , and great love of Linda to her children

Escape from plantation is another step made by Linda to free her children from terrible bondage . Admonitions of her grandmother have a great impact on her decision to escape inspiring Linda how to behave and how to survive . Linda understands that all men are created equal and blacks have the same equal rights as white before the face of God . She escapes from slavery because of her children and their future , because of their happiness and life free from oppression and humiliation . I feared the sight of my children would be too much for my full heart . I bent over the bed where lay my little Benny and baby Ellen . Poor little ones ! fatherless and motherless (Jacobs . 2003

The mother ‘s desire to gain trust of her children is used as a symbol to describe deep personal feelings and life experience of all humans Jacobs describes sufferings and feelings of Linda who leaves her children and goes out into the uncertain future (Jacobs , 2003 . The mother ‘s voice is important because only mothers can be so tender and loving to their little children as Linda does . Her love and great care about children creates an atmosphere of safety and calmness

After the escape , the grandmother plays a crucial role in Linda ‘s life helping her to overcome depression and bad feelings . Linda decides to delay the escape in to save her grandmother . Religious piety and submission are beliefs that are more marginal components of the ideology depicted by Jacobs

Jacobs portrays that children are the only precious things Linda has The great emotional burden for Linda is slavery of her children . She tries to spend much time with them gaining their trust . For instance she teaches Ellen to read in to help her to return to school Linda describes It required a great effort for me to consent to part with her , for I had few near ties . But my judgment prevailed over my selfish feelings (Jacobs , 2003 . Also , Linda feels remorse when knows that her child , Ben , escaped . She feels guilty that could not spent much time with him and he had asked her pardon for the suffering he had caused her . She said she had nothing to forgive she could not blame his desire for freedom . He told her that when he was captured . when thoughts of her came over him , and he desisted (Jacobs , 2003 . After many years of separation , Linda takes great pains to gain trust and love of children fighting for freedom . Both , Ellen and Ben , have changed greatly as a result of new life circumstances and life struggle

In sum , the narration unveils important themes of family relations and parental love of Linda towards her children . Linda embodies courage and grief , pain and love of the mother who does the best to save her children and gain their trust . Mother-children relations demonstrate that patents take great pains to prove their love to children regardless of the price . Linda is the product of the environment against which she rebels . In general , the character of Linda embodies an attitude of a slave-mother towards life and her children , her ability to rule it and the ability to accept the consequences of her actions . How that faithful , loving old heart would leap for joy , if she could look on me and my children now that we were free (Jacobs , 2003


Jacobs , H (2003 . Incident of the Life of a Slave Girl . Retrieved from http /docsouth .unc .edu /jacobs /jacobs .html



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