Harriet Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”

A look at “Incidents studymoose in the Life of a Slave Girl” and the contradictions it highlights regarding slavery and racial identity in the antebellum south.


This paper analyzes the slave narrative, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, by Harriet Jacobs and discusses the contradiction Jacobs illuminates concerning America’s values of research paper writer.net freedom and the institution of slavery in a supposedly free society.

From the Paper:

“In doing so, Jacobs made a dual claim. On one hand, by making slavery against the liberty of American values, she suggests that America is basically a free nation, and slavery exists in contradiction to its basic values. However, by telling her own tale, she suggests her own uniqueness and alienation from supposedly ordinary American society. Jacob’s own complex racial identity, which allowed her to pass for white at times, and yet also resulted in an enforced sexual relationship with one of her ‘owners’ Dr. Flint not only makes for a compelling tale-it forces and forced readers to acknowledge the constructed nature of ‘blackness’ and ‘whiteness’ as identities, rather than as mere shades of skin. Jacobs was, because of her appearance, able to perform both, and because of her identity as a female was able to give birth to a child apparently white, yet deemed a slave by a supposedly liberated American society, because a slave had mothered the child.”

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