Where My Love For Writing & Thinking Meet

Presentation on Harriet Jacob’s Autobiography
April 7, 2017, 11:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Incidents in the Life of of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs was originally published under the name of Linda Brent. Jacobs used a pseudonym to protect her family from harm given the things that she narrates. She also uses fake names in the story, but these are evidently people that played an important role in her life. Thus, it was easy to depict who is who. See below:

◦Linda is Harriet Jacobs

◦Dr.Flint is James Norcom

◦Mrs.Flint is Norcom’s wife

◦Mr.Sands is Samuel Tredwell Sawyer

◦Benny and Ellen are her children, Louisa and Joseph

◦Other characters are friends or relatives of Jacobs

These characters are crucially important to the plot. A lot of them play different roles in both her life and the book. Dr.Flint/James Norcom is our antagonist. Though the book follows Jacobs’s journey to freedom for herself and her kids, it is written for the white population who still supports slavery. She says she writes this text to shine light on how brutal slavery really is. She wanted to share her experience hopefully giving them insight that’d make them reconsider their stance. She writes, “I want to add my testimony to that of abler pens to convince the people of the Free States what slavery really is. Only by experience can any one realize how deep, and dark, and foul is that pit of abominations.” She wanted to share her story to shine light on how haunting, crippling slavery could be. Her text, written under the slave narrative genre, can be read as a text that speaks about race and gender issues.

I am going to use “Race and the Negro Writer” by Hugh M. Gloster on the exam to discuss this text in a historical context while also putting Gwendolyn Brooks in conversation with what he says (maybe even Ellison’s Invisible Man). Gloster argues that the “Negro experience handicaps the Negro writer.” Though written much later than Jacobs’s work, he makes this generalization of something that is still ongoing in the 1950s. I plan on picking a fight with this text because authors that write about the slave experience use different share different experiences, which Gloster fails to acknowledge. I will also use the reward ad sent out by James Norcom to further analyze the harassment Jacobs had to deal with.

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