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Slave Narrative Literary Analysis Essay

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Prior to the publication of any slave narrative, African Americans had been represented by early historians’ interpretations of their race and culture. Commonly accepted gender roles are a product of the biological and social evolution of humankind and are polarized between masculine and feminine expressions. These roles have been universally adapted and historically assigned to individuals based on gender. The collective acceptance of individual gender roles has fashioned them into a lens through which all human experience is filtered down to the individual. The differences between males and females and their respective gender roles result in distinctly different perspectives between the two sexes, often of the same event. One instance of this phenomenon can be observed through literature via the comparison of the distinctions between male and female slave narratives. The two most popular slave narratives, Frederick Douglass’s, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” and Harriet Jacob’s, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” offer insight into gender-specific dissimilarities through the themes of their individual narratives and the conditions they faced under slavery.
Frederick Douglass’s and Harriet Jacobs’s narratives both focused on self-made individuals who experienced upward mobility through their own efforts and hard work, therefore partaking in the positive redefining of African Americans. Violence was almost an everyday occupancy in the life of a slave, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs had to accept that from the start. In "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave" Douglass portrayed his first and worst experience of violence, "being stripped away from his mother when he was just ...


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...American Literature. By Henry Louis. Gates and Nellie Y. McKay. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. 387-452. Print.

Hunter-Willis, Miya. Writing the Wrongs: A Comparison of Two Female Slave Narratives. Diss. Marshall University, 2008. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. Web. 22 Sep. 2011.

Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself. Ed. Jennifer Fleischner. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.

Lee, Desmond. “The Study of African American Slave Narratives “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” and “Narrative of Frederick Douglass”.” Studies of Early African americans. 17 (1999): 1-99. Web. EBSCO

Wolfe, Andrea Powell. “Double-Voicedness in “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”: “Loud Talking” to a Northern Black Readership.” ATQ 22.3 (2008): 517-525. World History Collection. EBSCO. Web. 24 Sep. 2011.



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