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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – 28 Dec 2001
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From the Back Cover
The true story of an individual's struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.
Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs' harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like "garret" attached to her grandmother's porch.
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The life that this young lady had as a slave is quite terrible and the treatment of her can only be described as appalling, yet at the same time it makes it clear that compared to most slaves the life that she had and her treatment was quite good, many of the incidents she retells about other slaves are just too shocking for words.
One of the most shocking things I got from the book was that most of the slave owners actually thought that what they where doing and the way they kept and treated slaves, including killing, torturing and raping them was completely acceptable, simply due to the fact that as slave owners they where white and the slaves where not, the book shows that this sort of treatment was not the exception from one or two 'bad' slave owners but was in fact considered to be quite normal and acceptable by a large proportion of the population. At the same time though it must not be forgotten that there where many white people in the Southern states who did all they could to help this young woman and other slaves either hide or flee to the north. It all so gives some indication of the norths involvement in slavery, which until reading this I had not realised. This book really brings alive and brings home one of the saddest periods in US history and also the history of those countries who supplied the slaves.
This book is quite shocking in places, both in the incidents it tells and also in the language it uses. The language it uses is that of the time, and as such uses many words to describe the slaves that are quite offensive and rightly not at all acceptable today.
This is a book that should be read, but be prepared to be shocked and moved.
This book highlights the shameful past of the US and how it was for families born into the pure evil that slavery is. How could anyone ever think that it was ok or normal to treat human beings as less than even animals because of the colour of their skin? To know that slavery still exists in some parts of the world today is unimaginable. Linda could have curled up and died a multitude of times but she persevered through endless hell in order to save and secure her children. Her faith in God was tested so many times,and still she trusted that He would do right by her and her family. That is love!
Be prepared to feel every emotion as you read this account of the slave girl's life. You're going to need tissues, herbal tea to calm you down and some quiet time to digest it all.
I wish I had read this at school instead of Kes! Download it now, it's a fabulous read.
Having read the book it has made me think a bit more deeply and I worry that given the circumstances we are no different from the slave owners of yesteryear. The writer wanted the world to know what it was like to live as a slave and she has succeeded after all these years through writing her story to make me understand her problems and the problems still facing society at large. We owe it to her to read her story carefully.
The only criticism that I have is in understanding who wrote the book as we see it, the author or the editors and compilers. Whoever deserves the credit, they did a fine job.
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