Summary Of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs

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It all started in 1916, in the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia. European settlers in North America found African slaves as a cheaper, more plentiful labor source than indentured servants. In Harriet Jacobs’ book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jacobs gives us an insight into slavery in the first person. Using the pseudonym, Linda Brent, Ms. Jacobs details the corrosive treatment of women in the antebellum south. Considered chattel by their masters, enslaved black women underwent incessant physical exploitation, psychological abuse, and were denied their right to education. During a time where human worth was based upon the amount of melanin produced within one’s skin cells, women got the short end of the stick. As Jacobs…show more content…
All slaves were considered property and treated as such. They were to be obedient and submissive. Forced behind a façade, they were not allowed to freely express themselves and had to conceal their emotions. In the book, Linda’s brother, William is incarcerated for showing tears as Mr. Flint threatens and humiliates his sister. This repression and ill-treatment yielded psychological disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and caused some slaves to harm themselves and others. There are even accounts of mothers killing their own children to save them from being separated and enslaved. In order to cut costs and prevent rebellion, slave families were separated at the whim of their slaveholder. The possibility of separation was an ever-present threat to any and all slaves. The principle of partus sequitur ventrem meant that any child born to a slave woman would be also be a slave, regardless of who the father was. Jacobs describes how one mother, watched in horror as her seven children were sold: "She begged the trader to tell her where he intended to take them; this he refused to do. How could he, when he knew he would sell them, one by one, wherever he could command the highest price? I met that mother in the street, and her wild, haggard face lives to-day in my mind. She wrung her hands in anguish, and exclaimed, 'Gone! All gone! Why don 't God kill me? ' I had no words wherewith to comfort
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