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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Harriet Jacobs in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl uses clear detail and straightforward language, except when talking about her sexual history, to fully describe what it is like to be a slave. Jacobs says that Northerners only think of slavery as perpetual bondage; they don't know the depth of degradation there is to that word. She believes that no one could truly understand how slavery really is unless they have gone through it. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl do not only tell about the physical pains and hard labor that she went through. It mostly concentrates on the emotional viewpoints on it and what it did to shape who she is. When writing her story, Jacobs had a clear motive. Her motive was one of a political taking. She writes through her experiences and sufferings to make it clear to people, mainly the Northerners, and more specifically white women in the North, how slavery really is. She does not want sympathy, however, she does want "to arouse the women in the North to a realizing sense of the condition of two millions of women of the South, still in bondage" (460). Jacobs wants people to take action in antislavery efforts. Jacobs in telling her story uses many techniques to make it effective. Some of the techniques that she uses are dealing with the use of her language, her selections of incidents and details, and her method of addressing an audience.

Harriet Jacobs tells her story by breaking it down into sections according to different important aspects of her life. In doing this, each section is described vividly to give the reader a full effect and greater understanding of how it was to be treated as property. Like was said be...

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...tive techniques to get her point across. Her story was very powerful and probably helped in the antislavery movement, therefore fulfilling her goal. In the end she is thought of as a "new kind of female hero" (497). She has gone through many hardships

and she "articulates her struggle to assert her womanhood" (497). Even with her lack of a higher education, she shows intelligence throughout her writing. She had her own way of getting her points across, one being that a person could not possibly fully understand the degradation of slavery if he/she did not go through it themselves. This is a point within itself because it further relays the fact that slavery was a very horrible, evil and degrading thing.

Works Cited:

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Ed. Jean Fagan Yellin. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1987.
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