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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by Harriet Jacobs

Women and Femininity Quotes Page 3

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

But, O, ye happy women, whose purity has been sheltered from childhood, who have been free to choose the objects of your affection, whose homes are protected by law, do not judge the poor desolate slave girl too severely! (10.3)

Linda cannot be judged according to white morality. Slave-girls have a different set of choices, and none of them are particularly appealing.

Quote #8

I knew the impassable gulf between us; but to be an object of interest to a man who is not married, and who is not her master, is agreeable to the pride and feelings of a slave, if her miserable situation has left her any pride or sentiment. It seems less degrading to give one's self, than to submit to compulsion. There is something akin to freedom in having a lover who has no control over you, except that which he gains by kindness and attachment. (10.5)

For women whose bodies were policed and controlled by white men, the mere fact of choosing to sleep with someone could seem like a revolutionary act.

Quote #9

Alas, what mockery it is for a slave mother to try to pray back her dying child to life! Death is better than slavery. (11.17)

Here's an example of how slavery defeminizes women: slave-mothers pray for the deaths of their children. This is brutally realistic, since many slave-women actually did kill their children rather than have them grow up as slaves.

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