Study Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapter 16

By Harriet Jacobs

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Chapter 16

Scenes at the Plantation

  • Linda heads to the plantation with her daughter Ellen. Benny's sick, so he stays behind.
  • That's a good thing for him, since poor little Ellen is given work and separated from her mother and basically treated like a slave.
  • Eventually, Linda's had enough and sends her back to Aunt Martha's. Mr. Flint is briefly outraged, but Linda is such a good worker that he basically has to let her do whatever she wants.
  • After three weeks, Linda sneaks off to Aunt Martha’s for a midnight visit.
  • This is a little suspenseful, since she passes by a patrol on the way back and almost gets caught—but luckily the dudes forgot to bring their dogs, so she and her guide get back to the plantation safely.
  • And then one day, Mr. Flint’s great-aunt, Miss Fanny, comes to visit.
  • In case you were wondering how Aunt Martha got away with so much, this is where we learn that Miss Fanny bought her freedom for fifty dollars.
  • Miss Fanny tries to console Linda, but Linda has had about enough.
  • She begins to plan her escape. When Mr. Flint goes to pick up his wife, Linda runs off to Aunt Martha’s house to see her children and to pack her things.
  • Aunt Martha catches Linda in the act and guilt-trips her into staying by saying that a mother should suffer along with her children.
  • That is… questionable logic, but Linda says she’ll try to stick it out a bit longer.
  • The young Flints throw a dinner party to celebrate their new home, and Dr. Flint and his wife are invited. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • The next day, Linda gets a little peek at what her future holds, when the new Mrs. Flint—wife to Mr. Flint—watches the slaves receive their weekly food allowance.
  • She stops one old man from getting his food because, when slaves "were too old to work, they ought to be fed on grass" (16). Lovely.
  • Things go all right for a while, but then a white friend of the family tells Linda that the Flints are bringing her children down to the plantation to be "broke in,” which sounds all kinds of bad.
  • This is the final straw for Linda.

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