Study Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapter 27

By Harriet Jacobs

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Chapter 27

New Destination for the Children

  • This chapter has a bunch of confusing business about Linda's children.
  • It begins with Mrs. Flint threatening Linda that she's going to tell Mrs. Sands that Benny and Ellen are Mr. Sands’s children.
  • Before she can, Mr. Sands tells his wife that the two children are his, with the vague phrase "his relation to them" (27). It's not clear, but it sounds like he actually told her that he'd fathered them, which is super surprising for the time.
  • Mrs. Sands decides that she wants to take Benny, and give Ellen to her sister.
  • Even though both Mrs. Sands and her sister seem nice, Linda is just so tired of her children being enslaved.
  • So, she sends Aunt Martha to Mr. Sands, asking him to free the children.
  • Mr. Sands says that, as far as he's concerned, they are free. (Not that he's going to go to the trouble of, like, signing a document to that effect, it seems.)
  • But he agrees that they probably shouldn't hang around Edenton, because Dr. Flint still claims they belong to him.
  • So Ellen goes to live with some of Mr. Sands's relatives in Brooklyn, where she'll go to school (while, presumably, working as a servant). Benny's going North with Uncle Phillip.
  • The Flints are super mad when they find out about these arrangements. It sounds like Mr. Sands has actually 'fessed up to his wife, because Mrs. Flint is outraged that he's actually acknowledged them.
  • So, that's shameful. But it's apparently not shameful that Mrs. Flint is encouraging her daughter—who is technically Linda's mistress—to "steal" back Linda's children, since Dr. Flint allegedly had no right to sell them.
  • Yeah, seriously messed up.
  • Anyway, Ellen is off. Linda doesn't hear from her for a while, but eventually she gets word that the little girl had landed safely in Brooklyn.

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