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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


by Harriet Jacobs

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. At what points does Jacobs draw attention to the fact that her story is different from other slave narratives? What differences does she point out, and how do they matter to the story?
  2. According to Incidents, what particular challenges did young slave girls face? How does Linda prove that slavery is worse for girls?
  3. When Incidents first came out, many people assumed it was fiction. What elements might have suggested that the account wasn't true?
  4. How does the phrase “loophole of retreat” evoke multiple meanings? Are there other chapter titles that play with meaning in the same way?
  5. For a period that took up so much of her life—seven years—Linda spends relatively little narrative time talking about her hideaway. Why might that be?
  6. What role do friends and family play in the novel? To what extent is this a story about Linda, and to what extent is it a portrait of a community?
  7. How does Jacobs appeal to her audience? Does she use emotions, logic, or some combination to make her major points?
  8. Consider other captivity or imprisonment narratives, like Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. How might Linda's experience compare?

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