The text of Jacobs and Du bois reveal that both figures experienced a moment of realization in which they came to terms with their identity, as determined by society. Jacobs speaks of the blissful ignorance she lived in until she was six years old, saying, "the slave child had no thought for the morrow; but there came that blight, which too surely waits on every human being born to be a chattel" (Jacobs 7). Jacobs was sold into servitude and faced this change with the only acceptable reaction of a slave: resignation. Du bois recounts that his realization occurred when a white girl refused to interact with him due to their racial differences; Du bois relates: "it dawned upon me…that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil" (Du bois 178). His realization prompted him to realize that the black man has two identities: the one that he creates for himself and the one that society ascribes to him without his consent. This concept, known as double-consciousness, entails that the b...
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...d her son Benjamin across a room Harriet experienced a fleeting moment of panic, believing that he could potentially dead; however, when she confirms that he is alive she could not determine whether she was happy that he son survived. Harriet experienced inadequacy and doubted her femininity in times that she could not protect her children from the harsh realities of the world in which they were born.
Analyzing the narrative of Harriet Jacobs in the context of the writings of W.E.B. Du bois serves to demonstrate how slavery prompted the weary and self-denigrating attitudes of Negro Americans during the subsequent Reconstruction period. However, it is important to note that Harriet Jacobs does not embody the concept of double-consciousness because slavery effectively stripped away her sexuality and femininity, therefore reducing her to one identity--that of a slave.
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