Study Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapter 1

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Chapter 1


  • We start out with a happy childhood. Carefree, bunny rabbits, Disneyfied soundtrack, the whole thing.
  • We're thinking it's about to go downhill.
  • Yep, here it comes: the narrator's mom dies, and she's sent to live with and work for her mother’s mistress.
  • Oh, okay, whew. The new mistress seems like a nice lady.
  • Now we get a little story about the narrator's grandmother:
  • Grandma was so smart and faithful that her owners treated her very well.
  • They even let her stay up all night after she was done with her chores so she could start her own business, and then pay for her own clothes out of the profit.
  • That's so nice of them! Not. Well, okay, for the time, it actually was pretty nice.
  • Grandma (whose name is Aunt Martha) sets aside three hundred dollars from baking, hoping to one day buy her children.
  • One day, the grandmother’s mistress asks to borrow the three hundred dollars.
  • The grandmother has evidently never read a single book, ever, because she's like, "Sure! Take all my money. I'm sure you'll pay it back."
  • We suspect that's not going to happen.
  • Back to our narrator.
  • When the narrator is twelve, her mistress dies.
  • She turns out not to be so nice after all, because instead of setting her slaves free she gives them away to her relatives.
  • The narrator now belongs to her mistress’s five-year-old niece.

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