Study Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapter 12

By Harriet Jacobs

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Chapter 12

Fear of Insurrection

  • Word spreads of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in Virginia.
  • Worried that the slaves may be planning a revolt, the slaveholders in Edenton hire poor whites to search everyone.
  • Dozens of slaves—men, women and children—are whipped and tortured.
  • Linda cleans her grandmother’s house to get the searchers off her back.
  • Mr. Litch, a neighboring slaveholder, leads the search of Aunt Martha’s house. They ask her what she's doing with so many letters, and she says they're poetry from one of her white friends.
  • The search team leaves after not finding anything incriminating, and you can imagine they're a little disappointed.
  • This goes on for weeks. It doesn't manage to turn up any plots for rebellion—although if you're just looking at numbers of people tortured and jailed, it's a huge success.

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