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Slave Narratives

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The slave narratives of the ante-bellum time period have come across numerous types of themes. Much of the work concentrates on the underlining ideas beneath the stories. In the narratives, fugitives and ex-slaves appealed to the humanity they shared with their readers during these times, men being lynched and marked all over and women being the subject of grueling rapes. "The slave narrative of Frederick Douglas" and "Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" themes come from the existence of the slaves morality that they are forced compromise to live.

Both narrators show slave narratives in the point of view of both "men and women slaves that had to deal with physical, mental, and moral abuse during the times of slavery." (Lee 44)

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 a baby" (Lee 33). He told his story like it was something that was actually normal, not knowing many people in his family didn't even know when he was born. It was very weird for children born in slavery, but what made it worse was that he was thought of as a mulatto. He was told that women that gave birth in slavery were subject to this, because they still had to be productive. On the other hand Jacobs depicts family life among slaves as one that remains intact in a comfortable environment. She details a family, in which each member had minimal rights, and little to no say so on how they spent free time or their earnings.

Many of the scholars of the 20th centu...

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...ps with others more dependent on her masters," (Lee 29) much more segregated she believed compared to men. Douglas life was extremely different, he had in a sense opportunity to do more than the average slave; he lived on rural plantations and lived in a different "class" then Jacobs, and understood slavery was wrong. There are many significant differences that arise when comparing male and female narratives. Jacobs contends that women have to overcome more to reach that dream of freedom. Her dialogue and tone throughout the narrative signify the womanliness, since she was an orator her words have such a story teller feel compared to that of Frederick Douglass. While Douglass wanted that sense of self worth, and to feel like a man; Jacobs wanted ultimately to be "free and have a family and sense of community" (Jacobs 81), but most importantly she wanted a voice.
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