Study Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapter 13

By Harriet Jacobs

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Chapter 13

The Church and Slavery

  • The slaveholders in Edenton decide that a little churchifying will fix their slaves up.
  • Linda is invited to hear the sermon at the house of a free black man, Reverend Pike.
  • Reverend Pike basically tells the slaves that they've been naughty, and it's their Christian duty to obey their masters.
  • Linda thinks this is a¬†little funny, but she wants to see him again anyway.
  • A couple of weeks later, Reverend Pike takes too long to start the sermon. The slaves head to a Methodist church instead, where they get to sing and shout.
  • This is way better than listening to a guy preach.
  • Now it's time for a little story:
  • Linda taught a black church-goer named Fred to read, even though it's illegal for a slave to teach.
  • Six months later, Fred is reading the New Testament. Way to go, Fred!
  • The thing is, there are thousands of slaves like Fred who want to learn to read the Bible. As Christians, her readers should really work to make this happen by abolishing slavery.
  • Linda takes a minute here to point out the hypocrisy of religious people in the South.
  • Like, while white pastors can't sleep with other white women, it seems totally okay for them to rape slaves.
  • As long as men keep forking over the donations, they can basically do whatever they want.
  • For example, Dr. Flint, who's a member of the Episcopal Church, tries to convince Linda that she can have sex with him and still be considered virtuous.
  • Nuh-uh, Linda says. Not according to her Bible.
  • Dr. Flint promptly flies into a rage, since he figures his slave has no right to tell him what's in the Bible.

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