The Personal Story of Harriet Jacobs in Her Novel Incidents in The Life Of a Slave Girl
What was it like to be born into slavery and to be treated lesser than the dogs on the plantation? Many people speculate this question and could not imagine how horrible it could have been to be a black person in the slavery era. Harriet Jacobs was an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and was later freed and was also an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs wrote an autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, first serialized in a newspaper and published as a book in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. It was a reworking of the genres of slave narrative and sentimental novel, and was one of the first books to address the struggle for freedom by female slaves, explore their struggles with sexual harassment and abuse, and their effort to protect their roles as women and mothers.
Harriet Jacobs was one of the most notable abolitionists of her time by simply being a woman, escaping slavery, and becoming an author. Looking back Harriet Jacobs was very important because she was a woman during this time where people were treated less than the dogs on the plantation. According to page 209 Harriet Jacobs was the first person ever from the slavery era to author her own slave narrative. This is very significant because she was a woman and she told her own story of how she grew up during this time period. The book she created was called the Incidents Of A Slave Girl which was made in 1861. She was a very strong woman because, according to page 210, she was born into slavery and did not know that she was a slave until she was six years old when she said her childhood disappeared. In my opinion this is very significant because slavery was a very hard time. People were tested so poorly like they were lesser human beings, they were whipped and fed poorly and were abused especially the women. But Harriet Jacobs was able to create her own book and reflect and remember everything that happened. She also had to grow up and be born into slavery that is a very hard thing to go through because she did not know a different life and that was all that she knew about her life.
The second thing that makes Harriet Jacobs a very important figure during slavery was that she was someone that escaped slavery. She wanted to get away from the plantation extremely bad and you can see by reading page 231 where she said, “The anticipation of being a free woman prove almost too much for my week frame. The excitement stimulated me, in at the same time bewildered me. I’m a busy preparation for my journey and for my son to follow me. I resolve to have an interview with him before I went, that I might give him cautions and advice, and tell him how anxiously I should be waiting for him at the north. ” Another example is on page 234 where she was talking to her son and said “I told him I was now really going to the Free States, and if he was a good, honest boy, and a loving child to his dear old grandmother, the Lord would bless him and bring him to me and we and Ellen would live together. ” These two calls a very important to the nearest of because she raced everything and left behind a lot of people including her grandson in order to get to the Free States. In my opinion although she was very desperate to leave and not suffer any longer and go to freedom I would’ve not left my family members who are close to me behind because if I leave then they will have to suffer even more because the slave owner would be upset that someone escaped in the other slaves didn’t do anything about it. But this just goes to show how significant Harriet Jones worse and that she wanted freedom and not have to continue to be a slave because she was a slave her entire life.
The final reason why Harriet Jacobs was a very important figure in this time is because Harriet Jacobs wrote this entire sleeve narrative. She witnessed death according to page 211 where she said, “When I was six years old, my mother died; and then, for the first time, I learned, by the talk around me, that I was a slave. My mother’s mistress was the daughter of my grandmothers mistress. ” Another example also on the same page was “When I was nearly 12 years old, my kind mistress sickened and died. As I saw the cheek grow paler, and the eye more glassy, how earnestly I prayed in my heart that she might live! I loved her; for she had been almost like a mother to me. My prayers were not answered. She died, and they buried her in the little churchyard, where, day after day, my tears fell upon her grave. ” These references really support my claim because she detailed a lot of very important things that happened to her throughout her whole life and for a black woman especially someone who was born into slavery to detail such horrific things that happened to her that is very important because people today don’t have to suffer like people did many years ago. Looking back on it makes us realize that we have to reflect on what everything we have gone through to get where we are today. In my opinion this makes Harriet Jacobs even more of an important figure because it paints a vivid image in my mind of how it was back then. Also I did not have much knowledge on who Harriet Jacobs was and reading her narrative made me very interested about who she was. Harriet Jacobs was a significant figure in this era. She suffered through so much and had to go through harsh times just to make it to freedom.
Harriet Jacobs created her own slave narrative and detailed the times of her childhood, to the times she was plotting to escape slavery to after she made it to the free states. She was also a woman and women were abused and treated poorly during this time. Lastly she escaped and lived in the free states never to return and go back. Harriet Jacobs is very important to me because I had little knowledge on who she was before reading her narrative.
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