Analysis Of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl

Better Essays
Throughout the history of the world slavery and discrimination has existed in many societies. Discrimination can be defined as the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex (Newman, 2015). By 1860, Abraham Lincoln felt compelled to note that nearly one-sixth of the total population of the American land of the free consisted of slaves (Herron, 2015). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is narrative written by an ex-slave, Harriet Jacobs, under the pseudonym Linda Brent, which reveals the unique brutalities and discriminations inflicted on enslaved women. Jacobs starts her story recounting her childhood years in the house of a slave family. Growing up with a father…show more content…
In most instances, men and women were segregated into different work gangs and tasks were given to slaves according to their genders. In describing the economics of slavery, historians point out that male slaves were generally valued for their labor and physical strength, while females were valued for their offspring (Hallam, 2004). Men were given jobs such as, carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths, potters, and sugar boilers (Hallam, 2004). Jacobs (1861) points out “slavery is terrible for men; but is far more terrible for women” (p. 45). Some plantation owners preferred to buy women because they could do the hard work and bear children. This caused women to outnumber men in gang systems. Female slaves had a lot of responsibilities, such as work on the plantation, producing children and working in the household. Household slaves were seen to be better off than plantation slaves and their tasks included cooking, cleaning and taking care of their slave owner’s children (Hallam, 2004). Jacobs (1861) says, “why does a slave ever love? Why allow the tendrils of the heart to twine around objects which may at any moment be wretched away by the hand of violence?” (p.7). This explains that enslaved women were used as breeders, forced to bear children and have them ripped away to add to their master 's workforce. While slavery was terrible for both men and…show more content…
The corruption of urban society within America in the 1800s ' deprived the once virtuous girl from the protection of her family and required her to rely on their slaveholders and masters who would prey upon her innocence and defenselessness (Mannard, 2014). Women, and young girls, found that their bodies were not their own. From a very young age, girls were looked upon as sexual objects that existed solely for their master’s pleasures, to enact their most immoral sexual desires upon. Jacobs (1861) says, “if God has bestowed beauty upon her, it will prove her greatest curse. That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave” (p. 27). With this, she explains that when a young black slave girl beholds beauty, it quickly becomes her biggest downfall, as the white slaveholders will pursue her in hopes of sexual affairs. Jacobs notes that slave girls simply did not have the option of being virtuous since their virtue was under constant assault. As in Jacobs’ case, she was told that she was Dr. Flint’s property and must subject to his will in all things. Many were raped and made to bear the children of their white masters and denied the marriage to one they love, she states, “I once saw a women almost die giving birth to a babe who was nearly white” and that, “the master said if she must have a husband, she may take up one
Get Access