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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Essay Example

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Essay on Linda Brent’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Written by Herself One of Mark Twains’s greatest works Adventures of Huckleberry Finn begins, in a tone of irony, with the words “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted” (Twain 3)…
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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
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Download file to see previous pages One depicts the life of a slave boy and the other that of a girl. That Jacobs used a pseudonym is sometimes cited as a proof the account being a piece of fiction. I think it does not have to be so. It is an author’s right to use a pen name and it applies to Jacobs just as well. It is literally true that facts are often stranger than fiction and that explains why Incidents, for a long period after its publication in 1861, continued to arouse the skepticism that it was in all probability a white abolitionist’s fabricated work till Yellin of Pace University established the author’s authenticity (Diamond VIII). The cynicism understandably comes from those quarters where the members, owing as often to their community identity as to the gender identity, will never be able to identify with the traumatizing experience of what it means to be a slave – a female slave in particular; in the south, to be even more precise. The pain of having to choose between family needs and master’s decrees, for instance, cannot be appreciated just by going through the pages of a book. However, they were not the author’s target either. ...
ery during the 17th and 18th centuries are two features that expose the darker side of the history, society, culture, politics and economics of a nation that is conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (Elmore 232). In this context, Incidents assumes significance for its capacity to throw light on the fact that the cruelly exploitative nature of slavery is as horrible as the atrocities under colonialism, if not worse. It is an important literary work as well a source of crucial historical information about 19th century America that could be of essence to future generations in grasping what their forerunners lived through. It is a portrait of the society in which ‘citizen’ was a strange word to be used to refer to a colored man, as Jacobs observes on receiving the obituary notice of her uncle Phillip (Castronovo 158). For a slave, what images is the word freedom likely to conjure up? Being a woman can make more difference than we think. Jacobs’ narrative is all about a relentless pursuit of individual freedom. But the way she envisages this freedom is beyond the wildest stretch of one’s imagination. The moment of freedom was not when she was able to take control of her life. Nor did it arrive when her employer had bought her freedom. Since self-definition and self-assertion are undeniably among the key themes of the protagonist in Incidents, it is not easy to resist the temptation to label it as feminist. But we find an interesting contradiction. From the feminist perspective, it is hard to think marriage can be synonymous with freedom whereas Jacobs equates freedom with marriage when she states: Reader, my story ends with freedom; not in the usual way, with marriage” (Jacobs 183). It is in sharp contrast with the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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