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I am aware that some of my adventures may seem incredible but they are nevertheless strictly true.

I have not exaggerated the wrongs inflicted by Slavery, on the contrary, my descriptions fall far short of the facts. I have concealed the names of places and given persons fictitious names. I had no motive for secrecy on my own account, but I deemed it kind and considerate towards others to pursue this course.

I wish I were more competent to the task I have undertaken. But I trust my readers will excuse deficiencies in consideration of circumstances. I was born and reared in Slavery and I remained in a Slave State twenty seven years. Since I have been at the North it has been necessary for me to work diligently for my own support and the education of my children.

This has not left me much leisure to make up for the loss of early opportunities to improve myself and it has compelled me to write these pages at irregular intervals whenever I could snatch an hour from household duties. I have been waiting for awhile to write about this book. I have read and listened to a few slave narratives, but I believe, though the narration is very 19th century, the content is the most compelling slave narrative ever written. Frederick Douglass ' autobiography is the most well-known and most eloquent, but this story by Harriet Jacobs is the most incredible and powerful and offers a view of slavery that many people do not really read about.

We get to see slavery through the eyes, not only of a "house slave", but of a woman who was enslaved. Like Douglass, Jacobs was mixed-race and secretly became literate. But unlike him, she had the use of pure physical violence sort-of replaced with constant sexual violence since age Her time in slavery was between being molested and harassed by her master and being beaten and abused by her master's wife out of jealousy.

One of the ways she initially tries to stop this is by taking a white lover who she had two children by him.

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I do not want to reveal too much, but if you are familiar with The Diary of a Young Girl this is where we are going. Jacobs had twice tried to escape, but was caught so she pulls off an amazing gambit on her third try. While some slaves escaped, they did not always go straight north. The suffering of women as daughters, sisters, and mothers and grandmothers is examined in a personal way that you do not get with a Frederick Douglass.

What is interesting also is that she talks in the beginning of how she did not realize that she was a slave until she was six years old. It reminds of when I reflected on my own childhood and realized that I did not know I lived in a ghetto until I was I was around seven; I am not a expert of child psychology, but that is still worth note. We know now of the horrors that African-American women faced during slavery, but this was a revolutionary account in when this book was published. Harriet Jacobs was a busy woman and she was as dedicated to the cause of freedom and respect for African-Americans as anyone during the 19th century.

Her brother also published a slave narrative.

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I and my children are now free! I We are as free from the power of slaveholders as are the white people of the north; and though that, according to my ideas, is not saying a great deal, it is a vast improvement in my condition. The dream of my life is not yet realized. I do not sit with my children in a home of my own. I still long for a hearthstone of my own, however humble.

I wish it for my children's sake far more than for my own. But God so orders circumstances as to keep me with my friend Mrs.

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Love, duty, gratitude, also bind me to her side. It is a privilege to serve her who pities my oppressed people, and who has bestowed the inestimable boon of freedom on me and my children. It has been painful to me, in many ways, to recall the dreary years I passed in bondage. I would gladly forget them if I could. Yet the retrospection is not altogether without solace; for with those gloomy recollections come tender memories of my good old grandmother, like light fleecy clouds floating over a dark and troubled sea.

It is a sad illustration of the condition of this country, which boasts of its civilization, while it sanctions laws and customs which make the experiences of the present more strange than any fictions of the past. Jul 03, Stephani rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to learn about slavery from the "house negro" POV. Shelves: african-diaspora , memoir , history. Next time you hear somebody going on about how the "mulatto" or "house negro" class in slave days were "privileged" and "got over" on the "field negroes," tell them to read this book.

Sure, the "mulatto" or "light-skinned" slaves got to work in the house or were sometimes allowed to work away from the plantation in a trade and sometimes got to keep their own money. If they were really lucky, they might be taught to read on the sly. However, these "privileges" were likely to be taken away at any m Next time you hear somebody going on about how the "mulatto" or "house negro" class in slave days were "privileged" and "got over" on the "field negroes," tell them to read this book. However, these "privileges" were likely to be taken away at any momemt at the whim of a slaveholder: If they needed money, the slave could be sold away to less comfortable circumstances.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs

Or a "nice" slaveholer could die, leaving the slave to someone not so nice -- someone who might want to sexually abuse the slave, for instance. Sexual abuse of female slaves, especially house slaves, and the sexual hypocrisy of the times really makes this book stand out from, say, Frederick Douglass' narrative. Harriet Jacobs is so worried about people judging her for turning to another White man and having babies with him in the hope that it will make her evil lech "master" leave her alone.

If she had succumbed to her "master's" lechery, she would have been viewed as just another slave woman forced to be a "bed wench. This book makes you glad those days are over for more reasons than one. Courtesy of my blog, www. I place living in quotations to demonstrate the difference between living a life, which connotes freedom, and surviving a life, which illustrates a resemblance of a life within another's desire to wrap cruel albatrosses around your neck, proverbial and literal.

Jacobs' life began as a slave. She's never known freedom otherwise until her heartbreaking story leads to her fr Courtesy of my blog, www. She's never known freedom otherwise until her heartbreaking story leads to her freedom. Through various vignettes, she paints the picture of life with the evil industry, known as slavery. From favoritism based on complexion i. To call this story heartbreaking and unflinching feels basic.

I could throw all the twenty-dollar words my education via blood, sweat, and tears of my ancestors sacrificed for me at this piece. Yet, I'd still feel unworthy of describing what she shares in the book, as if it's not my place to put her pain and the pain of others into words.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

I should just listen and learn without repeating the lack of humanity demonstrated. I shall not outline too much because I want you to capture the story yourself. But, indeed, inhumanity prevails as one clear comparison of inhumanity appears. To save herself from her owner's incessant sexual harassment, Ms. History insists on repeating Unfortunately, when slavery's discussed, we focus on male slaves. Their stories ring truer, due to misogyny and sexism.


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Female slaves and their stories find themselves in the back. Perhaps, their stories present harsher tales, including rape, sexual harassment, and watching their children kidnap and sold miles from them at any given age. Their pain rings deeper and many wish to not surround themselves in the deeper and complex horrors they offer, which causes further pain, as their stories require discussion and recognition too.

Just like Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , this story, along with Jubilee , deserve study in America's classrooms without delay. Their pain is our pain, and we should never forget them. Verdict : Highly recommended. Dec 17, Sarah rated it it was ok Recommends it for: Mothers. Well, it's a detailed book of the de-womanizing cruelties of slavery, which is always an interesting and educational read, but never easy or uplifting read.

One thing I liked about this book compared to other slavery experience books I've read is the heart-wrenching description of the "slave mother's" soul, heartache, trials, worries, etc. The huge reason, though, I only gave this book 2 stars was because of my innate skepticism and the debated controversary always surrounding this book--many sa Well, it's a detailed book of the de-womanizing cruelties of slavery, which is always an interesting and educational read, but never easy or uplifting read.

The huge reason, though, I only gave this book 2 stars was because of my innate skepticism and the debated controversary always surrounding this book--many say that these events didn't happen to a real person, but were collected stories. Others, including the book itself, purport these experiences were all from and about one real woman, Harriett, who wrote the book.