Analysis Of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs

Satisfactory Essays
John Carbone
EN 102

In “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” by Harriet Jacobs, Jacob’s writing demonstrates to challenge the acceptance of slavery during the 1800’s. Jacobs, who is writing inside a “contact zone” tries to connect both societies in this story.
According to Mary Louise Pratt a contact zone is: “Social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today”(Pratt 607).
Therefore a contact zone is a mutual space where two completely different cultures collide, and benefit from one another. Harriet Jacobs is writing to an audience of white people so they can understand what being a slave was like. Since Jacobs was an activist during the time of slavery, she attempts to create a visual for the readers of what slavery is and was. Regardless the variances to Pratt’s work, writing within the use of a contact zone, Jacobs display a powerful piece of literature.
If Jacobs and Pratt are both accurate in their views of contact zones, then why does it even matter at all what kind of contact zone is being demonstrated in their writings? Understandably Jacobs wasn’t alive when the phrase “contact zone” was even manifested but does incorporating a contact zone into her work change how we read and understand Jacobs? Anywhere on earth, especially in the United Sates, there are different types of communities and cultures that combined to become one; so when you really think about it there are contact zones everywhere. In the mindset that a contact zone even exists in Jacob’s writing, her work could be viewed very differently. It is perhaps, given a...

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...y that is revealing an inspiring. In a time when the slavery was such a monumental issue, yet most people from the North and South were poorly knowledgeable. Familiar with the contact zone in which Jacobs wrote about, her work also reveals the idea of overcoming the contact zone through abolishment of slavery.
Jacobs, being a slave, had the ability to write about her life and to capture the attention of the audience as to how fragile her life was. Today, it is obvious that slavery was wrong, but at a time when freedom for few wasn’t accepted, this work of encouragement was so critical. For Jacobs had taken the right stance on this very important issue and wrote a very strong auto ethnographic piece in the areas of a contact zone. Even though her work is not accurately accepting towards Pratt’s contact zone, Jacobs work clearly makes a valid argument against slavery.
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