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Life of a Slave Girl.

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Introduction

Life of a Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs Once again we are transported to a time and place that seems so unreal, so utterly hard, that it takes someone who has been there to accurately portray the sights and sounds in a way that allows us to believe it is real. In her book Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs describes her life as a slave in South Carolina in the early to mid 1800's. Her account is similar in nature to other slave narratives at the time, but has a different tone to her descriptions of life and death during her time in bondage. Unlike others that tell of extreme punishment and hard labor, Jacobs' narrative explores the emotional hardships laid upon her by her master, a man by the name of James Norcom. Norcom is attracted to Jacobs and is constantly battering her with lewd innuendos and moral degradation. He very much wants Jacobs to submit to him, and her struggle against his actions becomes one of Jacobs' means of strength and defiance. Another means of strength for Jacobs is her grandmother Molly Horniblow. This woman, who is a freed slave, wants nothing more than to see what's left of her family free to live a life in which they deserve as human beings. ...read more.

Middle

Bruce, "employed a gentleman in New York to enter into negotiations with Mr. Dodge." At first Mr. Dodge didn't take the offer, but finally "he concluded that 'half a loaf was better than no bread' and he agreed to the proffered terms" (Jacobs, 199). So Jacobs was now officially free, but still felt uneasy about having to be purchased. " I had objected to having my freedom bought, yet I must confess that when it was done I felt as if a heavy load had been lifted from my weary shoulders" (Jacobs, 200). Through all of the narrative, Jacobs searched for freedom and at last she had obtained it. Unfortunately blacks were still not given many of the freedoms as others and in closing there is a sense that she is not completely over her ordeal of so many years of hardship. It is interesting to note that in her book, Jacobs refers to each individual by a different name than was fact. She refers to herself as Linda Brent, grandmother as Aunt Martha as well as her children Joseph and Louisa as Benny and Ellen respectively. This use of pseudonyms is an interesting facet of Jacobs's narrative. Why would she not want to reveal the names of people that had made her life so miserable? ...read more.

Conclusion

And even though the father was a free man, the children took the legal status of the mother and so also became property of the father. In Jacobs's case, the father of her children was inclined to see that the young ones not be subject to the slavery system. He ultimately sent them to the north and tried to purchase Jacobs as well. It was a rare situation in which the father had nothing financially to benefit from his actions, but was simply doing what others refused to do. And that was treating fellow human beings as human beings. Jacob's tale of toil and hardship makes one thankful for the freedom that we so often take for granted. Her story speaks of the good and bad of human nature and forces us to think about the times in our county's past that most would like to forget. It also tells of the spirit to live and to be free when it seems as if every step you take might be your last. The fight of good vs. evil is something that might never go away and Jacob's narrative is only one slice of a struggle that has been around since the dawn of man, yet it reminds us not to forget those that have struggled for ideals that seem so common place in today's world. ...read more.

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