Slave Narrative

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Slave narratives provide eloquent arguments against the inhumane practice of slavery and serve as crucial documentations of America’s reprehensible history. Frederick Douglass, a famous black abolitionist, fearlessly published his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass seven years after his escape from bondage. Douglass powerfully details the physical hardships of a male slave and the evils that occurred within slave plantations. Similarly, Harriet Jacobs–once free–published her narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Jacobs tackles the emotional tribulations inflicted upon herself and other women of color by their white masters. Jacobs and Douglass published their narratives to demonstrate to the public that slavery is destructive…show more content…
Jacobs frequently wrote about the impact of slavery on being a mother, and the impact of slavery on the mother and child bond. At the beginning of the novel, she writes about the different experiences between the male and female slaves on New Year’s Day. She writes, “But to the slave mother New Year's Day comes laden with peculiar sorrows. She sits on her cold cabin floor, watching the children who may all be torn from her the next morning; and often does she wish that she and they might die before the day dawns” (Jacobs 15). Motherhood is the most basic human right, and slaves are being stripped of their ability to have families. No white woman in America would ever ‘wish that she and they [her children] might die before the day dawns,’ so Jacobs includes this notion to appeal to the maternal instincts of the women reading her narrative. It creates a sorrowful tone that veils underlying anger at the unjust nature of this New Year’s practice. Furthermore, she creates more sympathy for the situation of slave mothers by reminding her white audience that slave children are ‘torn’ from their mothers at a young age. The word invokes a different emotional response from her audience; it invokes a feeling of longing for their children and sympathy for the mothers. The bond between mother and child is a strong, relatable reference for her female readers.…show more content…
Part way through her narrative, Jacobs describes the different slave owners that were in the county. Mr. Litch was a master that Jacobs described to be ill-bred, uneducated, and very wealthy. She claims that being one of his slaves is especially dangerous. She claims, “There was a jail and a whipping post on his grounds; and whatever cruelties were perpetrated there, they passed without comment. He was so effectually screened by his great wealth that he was called to no account for his crimes, not even for murder”(Jacobs 44). This tangent about Mr. Litch is to prove to her audience the hypocrisy of democracy in the South. Democracy should be blind to the wealth of a person, but in the south, wealthy white men are exempt from the law. Mr. Litch is so wealthy that he can get away with ‘even’ murder writes Jacobs. The use of ‘even’ is to show her disbelief at the system. Also, Jacobs includes this anecdote to show that in the south, blacks are not considered people. This impact of the story is intended to anger the abolitionist readers to be more radical and be more vocal about their desire for change. Furthermore, in Douglass’ narrative he too explores the undemocratic ways of the south. After Douglass challenges the overseer, Mr. Covey, to a duel, Douglass wins. He describes the win as a momentous change in his life on the plantation. “This battle with Mr. Covey
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