Slavery in America

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Everyone knows that slavery in America was a difficult time for African Americans. But do people truly understand how hard it was for the African American female slaves? Harriet Jacobs goes into detail about her life as a slave and gives the female perspective under the alias Linda Brent in the novel Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. She states that everything she says in the book is completely true. There are stereotypes of black women during this time: being looked upon as sexual objects and being promiscuous. Jacobs’s attempts to resist the stereotypical images of black women are unsuccessful, even with the presence of her well respected grandmother.
Women Slaves
Like Frederick Douglass stated in his narrative, the women slaves were subjected to the same labor and punishments as men. But women faced more brutal treatment. Douglass shares in his narrative that he took his share of whippings. Jacobs reports that she did not receive much physical punishment, mostly verbal and emotional. “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women” (Jacobs 86). Their bodies were looked upon as sexual objects, free for slave masters to partake in since their bodies did not belong to the slave, but to the slave master. Rape occurred often and the women became pregnant with children fathered by her slave master. The child would become a slave because the mother was a slave, even when fathered by the slave master. This cycle continued as more female slaves were born. Jacobs knew this all too well, as she witnessed this with her very eyes.
Marthy and “The Cult of True Womanhood”
Marthy, Jacobs’s grandmother, is the voice of reason and always instills in her to do what is right. Marthy is a virtuous, respectable, and uprig...

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...iled to realize that this was a white man’s world and getting what she wanted was easier said than done.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Ed. Gates, Henry. and McKay, Nellie. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004. 385-452. Print.
Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. New York: Penguin, 2000. Print.
Osborne-Bartucca, Kristen. McKeever, Christine ed. “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Themes”. GradeSaver, 30 January 2013 Web. 26 February 2014.
Whitsitt, Novian. "Reading between the Lines." Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies 31.1 (2010): 73-86. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
Zafar, Shahila and Khan, Zaved. "The Images of White Womanhood in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." Studies in Literature and Language 1.8 (2010): 1-4. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
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