Harriet Jacobs: A Narrative Of The Life Of A Slave Girl

Better Essays
Many slave narratives share common themes. They discuss the brutality they experience, they discuss religion, and they discuss family. These narratives not only capture the spirit of the slave, they also capture the spirit of their masters, their family, and the abolitionist of the time. These narratives also display the slave’s desperation to attain freedom. Two of the most significant slave narrative would be A Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave and Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl. Both narratives exemplify many models for resistance. The models for resistance in Harriet Jacobs’s narrative include her relationship, where she ran away to, and also motherhood while in Frederick Douglass’s narrative his models…show more content…
Stephanie Li says that “It is precisely through her flesh as both mother and slave woman that Harriet A.Jacobs in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) claims the insurgent ground of her social identity and formulates her resistance to human bondage.” (LI 2) This claim shows exactly how Harriet Jacobs uses motherhood as an example of resistance. When reading the narrative you can see that Linda’s children motivate everything she does throughout the narrative. Her children play a major role in her quest for freedom. Stephanie Li says, “She suggests that the ways slave mothers care for their children, despite the immense restrictions imposed by their bondage, offer a potent means of resistance against the institution and its promoters.” (Li 1) I believe Stephanie is trying to say that even though slavery inhibits mothers from providing maternal love to their children, slaves will still always try to find a way to provide it. This devotion to providing care to their children made slaves resist slavery if even they do not realize that is what they are…show more content…
This is extremely contradictory since slaves are supposed to dependent upon their slave masters. Linda displays her independence in several instances. Linda is not the only character in Harriet Jacobs’s narrative that utilizes independence as a resistance against slavery. For example, Harriet Jacobs introduces the character Aunt Martha who could be seen as the most independent character in the narrative. She is the only person that has the means to help Linda. She allows Linda to stay in her attic. This gracious act not only displays how independent she is, but it also shows how courageous she is. This can be seen as another contradictory element in the narrative. Most people assume that slave masters are meant to breakdown slaves. They should take away any courage or independence that a slave possesses. In Incidents of a Slave Girl you can see that slaves still possess these qualities and they are often used as a tool of resistance against
Get Access