Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
by Harriet Jacobs
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Slavery Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Chapter.Paragraph
The secrets of slavery are concealed like those of the Inquisition. My master was, to my knowledge, the father of eleven slaves. But did the mothers dare to tell who was the father of their children? Did the other slaves dare to allude to it, except in whispers among themselves? No, indeed! They knew too well the terrible consequences. (6.11)
Slavery creates an environment of fear, and none of the socially weaker people—not women, children, or slaves—can stand up against it.
Reader, I draw no imaginary pictures of southern homes. I am telling you the plain truth. Yet when victims make their escape from this wild beast of Slavery, northerners consent to act the part of bloodhounds, and hunt the poor fugitive back into his den, "full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness." (6.13)
Here's a good moment of Linda's rhetoric. She steps back from the narrative and addresses the reader, using her intimate knowledge of slavery to give herself authority—and at the same time criticizes Northerners for being complicit in slavery.
I can testify, from my own experience and observation, that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks. It makes the white fathers cruel and sensual; the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters, and makes the wives wretched. (9.20)
Slavery ruins everyone involved—not just slaves. It's like mutually assured destruction of morality.