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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 Theme of Slavery

Ready for the big reveal? Slavery is bad. No, seriously, it is. And Harriet Jacobs wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl to prove it. But what Jacobs has that other slavery-is-awful narratives don't have is the personal experience of enslaved women. If you think it's bad for men, just wait until you see what it does to women, children, and families. The whole point of Incidents was to get Northern white women off their couches to actually do something about this whole atrocity, and, if it wasn't particularly effective, it sure wasn't for lack of trying.

Questions About Slavery

  1. How does Linda try to convince the reader that slavery is wrong?
  2. Who is the primary symbol of slavery in the book?
  3. What does slavery do to families? To women? To children?
  4. What are the different challenges faced by male and female slaves? By children and adult slaves?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Jacobs argues that slavery is bad for everyone involved, not just the slaves themselves. Since she was writing for a Northern white audience, it was important for her to show how slavery corrupted all kinds of people.

Jacobs suggests that, just as female slaves faced particular challenges under slavery, they also had special ways to resist it.

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