Incident In The Life Of A Slave Girl: Concept Of Slavery

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“I was born” a free man. Many are not privileged to say that. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, written by Harriet Jacobs, it takes the reader into the life of Linda Brent. She is born into slavery and her opening statement to her book is “ I was born a slave.”

Harriet Jacobs utilizes the name Linda Brent to tell her story in first person point of view. Linda Brent was born in February 11, 1813 into slavery. Both her parents, Elijah and Delilah Jacobs, were slaves but from two different families. Elijah was a carpenter, leaving Linda and her family in Eden, North Carolina. Although enslaved, Linda managed to live and happy childhood. She writes , “ though we were all slaves, I was so fondly shielded that I never dreamed I was a piece of merchandise trusted to them for safe keeping and liable to be demanded of them at any moment.” She was a happy, smart, caring child growing up. Back then, reading and writing was a privilege yet, she knew how to perform both. When she was just six years old, her mother, Delilah Jacobs, passed away and Linda was forced to live with her mother’s mistress. She is who taught Linda how to read and write. Years later, her priceless mistress dies. Yes, I say priceless because not all mistress/ masters teach their slaves. Her new masters, Mr. Flint and Mrs. Flint soon become Linda’s worse nightmare. They are the reason for Linda’s future slavery distress. Soon, Mr. Flint became very provocative with Linda and always wanted to convince her to let him do whatever he wanted with her. He wanted the pleasure of having her on her own will, he did not want to force her. Although, Linda starts having a love affair with the white neighbor, Mr. Sands, who she has two children with, Benny and Ellen. She hopes that one day shell be sold to Mr. Sands. This did not go as planned, she was sent to another plantation by her jealous master. Shen then hides in the attic of her grandmother house. Attic is a big word, it was more of a box, she could not stand or lay. After seven long years, Linda escapes to the north and reunited with Benny and Ellen. From there, life for her becomes a roller coaster. She is faced with much more challenges, but in the end comes to an end. Her kids go their separate ways and she continues to work. The book end with quotes of famous abolitionists.

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I believe slavery was a cruel and in humane way of torturing people. I find it very unfair to make person do hard labor based on the color of their skin. In my opinion, it is a very close-minded way of thinking. It is also even more concerning that some people still think like that now a days. African Americans are human beings as well and people back then needed to realize that. When I think of slavery I always think of eggs; yes, you have some white and some brown eggs however, they all contain the same things on the inside. This is the same case with human beings, so to think less of a person because of the color of their skin is unfair. All human beings are capable of accomplishing the same things and should not be doubt of that because they do not have the same skin color. Slavery made African Americans property to whites, making them worth less than a chair. These owners made their slaves do everything they wanted them to do. Sometimes they took advantage of their slaves in many ways because they knew no one would take them seriously and basically because them owned them. It is sad that back then these poor people could not escape their owner because if they ran away eventually someone else would take them as their own or if they were found they could be killed. African Americans had very little to no say when they were slaves. It took open minded people to look at things differently and saw them as actual humans and not property. Slavery did not make a hate relationship between the master and the slave; it made a hate relationship between the slave and their soul. They didn’t want to live anymore, they wanted to kill themselves because they felt worthless, just like Harriet Jobs did. Now, in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, there is only one word I can use to describe this amazing book and that is heart. Heart. This book opened my eyes into what really happened back then in enslaved times. I am lost in words when she writes about masters whipping their slaves until there was a puddle of blood. Linda Brent went through hell and for what? For her family. Her heart was so strong and big that she went through all this vicious treatment from her master just to protect her family. Everything she did was for them, and she did not fail to mention it multiple times in the story. Not only this, but I went above and beyond and went ahead and talked to my history teacher about slavery. After finishing reading the book, I told him, “ Slavery is horrible, and people need to know more about it.” And he told me this, “ why is horrible? What if we never had slavery? Do you think we’d be here right now at this point? Things happened for a reason.” Now, I don’t know what to think about this, in a way he is right. But that still doesn’t give a white master to mistreat a human being that way. When Linda start mentioning the slave trade, I recall of my History 1302 class I took last semester. My professor, Ms. Ballard, brought out this amazing speaker to talk about human trafficking. To me this two are very much alike, the salve trade and human trafficking. Seems to be that the only difference from back then and today, is the prices. Furthermore, I absolutely loved how Linda talks about beauty. She says that beauty is a curse because anyone would want to take advantage of it. The beauty of a young women is a sign for future torture. It funny, how back then beauty was a curse but now days, everybody wants to have it in order to fit in society. Linda mentions “ I rather kill myself” than to have the curse of beauty. Her looks is what lead to Mr. Flints’ actions towards Linda.

“I would ten thousand times rather that my children should be the half-starved paupers of Ireland than to be the most pampered among the slaves of America. I would rather drudge out my life on a cotton plantation, till the grave opened to give me rest, than to live with an unprincipled master and a jealous mistress,” says a writer at Teaching Tolerance. Now, it absurd how accurate this is. I would also rather do something much worse than to live a life of that of a slave. This just into consideration the harsh living of slavery. Yet, Linda Brent did not live the worst life . Becky, from Goodreads says, “I don’t think that there’s much that I could say about this book that hasn’t already been said. Harriet Jacobs lived life at so many odds – she was a slave, but a well-treated one, by most standards. She wasn’t beaten or worked to the brink of death. She wasn’t forced to watch her children be sold away from her one by one, as many other slave mothers were. She wasn’t raped. In her community, her family was pretty well-respected and even loved, despite their being chattel.” Now, most of this is true. Linda was lucky to have lived a life this way. She was fortunate enough to live the life she did. She might have been emotionally damaged in the inside but not physically damaged. This, to me, is still bad, but I can’t imagine the life of those that were rapped, punished , or killed. That is why I describe the book with heart, because everything happened in the inside .

In conclusion, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was such an outstanding book that will help any reader learn the true struggle of being a slave. Harriet Jacobs was the first slave to write an autobiography about her life and be able to publish it to the public. I am glad everything went well for Linda Brent, but it would have been better if it was much more and not just her. I one hundred percent recommend this book to any curious reader.  


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