Slave Women in Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Toni Morrison's Beloved
Slavery was a horrible institution that dehumanized a race of people. Female slave bondage was different from that of men. It wasn't less severe, but it was different. The sexual abuse, child bearing, and child care responsibilities affected the females's pattern of resistance and how they conducted their lives. Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, demonstrates the different role that women slaves had and the struggles that were caused from having to cope with sexual abuse.
Growing up as a slave Jacobs was constantly exposed to sexual abuse from her master. She was forced to learn what it meant to be a slave that was a women and the exploits that she would have to endure. A...there is no shadow of law to protect her from insult, from violence, or even from death; all these are inflicted by fiends who bear the shape of men."(Jacobs,361)
The insults and violence that Jacobs endured from her master shaped the choices she made in life. He whispered foul words to her, causing Jacobs much pain. She was forced to lose her innocence early in life. Her master owned her so he was able to treat her and violate her innocence as he pleased. By losing her innocence Jacobs felt that she had done something wrong. She soon realized how she was different by being a slave that was a women. "She will become prematurely knowing in evil things. Soon she will learn to tremble when she hears her master's footfall. She will be compelled to realize that she is no longer a child."(Jacobs,361)
The choices that Jacobs took in life were influenced by the position that she was in. She gave birth to two children, hoping they would hel...
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...hat clearly inhibits motherhood. She would rather see her child dead in peace before she saw her child as a slave. However this did not happen this way because Beloved came back to haunt the family which resulted in her two boys leaving because they could not stand the pressure of living in a haunted house. So, again motherhood was inhibited because with out any children there is no mother hood and this is all because of slavery.
Although Sethe prevented her children from being put back into the evil forces of slavery, there is a greater question of importance. Can Sethe be thought of as a heroine for releasing them from slavery or is it murder? These questions must also be related back to the real-life character Margaret Garner.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Ransom House, 1987
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the life of a slave girl,1861.