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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

Literary Devices in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

The first two-thirds of the novel take place in Edenton, North Carolina, the town where Harriet Jacobs was actually born and raised. We don't learn very much about Edenton. Linda doesn't descri...

Narrator Point of View

This is the Linda Brent Show. From the very first page, with the subtitle "Written by Herself," Jacobs highlights that her account is personal and true. She uses "I" throughout, and she doesn't p...

Genre

The most obvious genre that Incidents plays with is the slave narrative. Books like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave ...

Tone

So, Linda has a tricky job. She has to make emotional pleas for abolition, but she also wants to make sharp, pointed critiques of the whole institution of slavery—including Northern complicities....

Writing Style

One early review of Incidents published in the Anti-Slavery Bugle said that the book’s style was “simple and attractive—you feel less as though you are reading a book, than talking with the...

What's Up With the Title?

Here's proof that words matter. Check it out:"Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"vs."Incidents in the Life of Harriet Jacobs"See the difference? By using the universal-sounding phrase "a slave g...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

“Northerners know nothing at all about Slavery. They think it is perpetual bondage only. They have no conception of the depth of degradation involved in that word, Slavery; if they had, they woul...

What's Up With the Ending?

Jacobs seems to know herself that something is up with her ending: Reader, my story ends with freedom; not in the usual way, with marriage. (41.25) By “the usual way,” Jacobs means that both...

Plot Analysis

Born in Chains Linda realizes she's a slave when she's six years old. One of her mistresses teaches her how to read, and Linda starts getting ideas—like, maybe she shouldn't be a slave. In fac...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

The "Peculiar Institution" Linda doesn’t fully understand the horrors of slavery. She knows that her role is to serve white people, but doesn't really understand what that means. But she's a...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Linda's happy little life ends at six years old, when she (1) realizes that she's a slave and then, a few years later, (2) is sent to work for the Flint family. Dr. and Mrs. Flint are apparently...

Trivia

In England, Incidents was published as The Deeper Wrong. We have to ask: deeper than what? (Source.) Mr. Sands was actually a U.S. Representative named Samuel Tredwell Sawyer. His official biograph...

Steaminess Rating

Well, PG-13, unless you were living in the 1860s. Then it might be a lot closer to R. There's no actual depiction of sex in the novel, but there sure are a lot of sexual hints and threats. Given...

Allusions

Mark 12.31 (1.6)Matthew 7.3-5, Luke 6.41-42 (4.10)Lord Byron, “The Lament of Tasso” (7.1)Exodus 20.15 (9.2)John Norris, The Parting (9.12)Robert Blair, The Grave (9.12)Amelia Matilda Murray (...
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