Harriet Jacobs vs. Fredrick Douglass

Harriet Jacobs vs. Fredrick Douglass - Adam Reed Africa and...

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Adam Reed Africa and Black Diaspora Dr. Hunt March 13, 2008 Comparative Essay A Dream Realized Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs had two very different experiences and wrote two very different narratives. One reason for this was the geographic region in which they were both enslaved. Jacobs was a slave in the Deep South where slaves were treated notoriously worse. Douglass, on the other hand was a slave in Maryland which had less of a reputation for cruelty. In addition, Harriet Jacobs was of course a woman and Douglass a man. The different views, abilities, and predispositions of the different sexes greatly affect their experience. One scene that illustrates the struggle that Jacobs went through was a conversation between her and Dr. Flint. Dr. Flint uses Jacobs’ children as leverage to get him to do what he wants. Flint says that he will free the children if she agrees to stop seeing their father and to move into a private cottage. This is one instance in a series of sexual advances that he makes towards Jacobs. The book does not explicitly say, but it suggests that Dr. Flint has had sexual relations with Jacobs. However, she resists him in any way that she can and Flint gets very jealous when she starts seeing the freeman color. Jacobs refuses to move to the cottage even though her master promises her children’s freedom. She knows that the chances of him actually freeing them are very slim. Out of anger he threatens to send her to the plantation. Jacobs decides that this is the best way to try and escape so she agrees. Dr. Flint gets very angered at this and expected Jacobs to want to stay with him. “Very well. Go to the plantation, and my curse go with you,” he replied. “Your boy shall be put to work, and he shall soon be sold; and your girl shall be raised for the purpose of selling well.
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Reed 2 Go your own ways” (Jacobs 72)! Jacobs makes this decision to leave her family in hopes that she will someday be able to free them. Leaving her family was not an easy choice to make. She loved her children and grandmother very much. Making it even more difficult, was the protest put up by her grandmother to stay where she was. Her grandmother thought that Jacobs was being sent away as a punishment and offered to plead with Dr. Flint to let her stay. Jacobs knows that if she really wanted to stay she could. However, that would mean sacrificing her children’s life to slavery and herself to Dr. Flint. This is not a viable option in her mind. Jacobs’ grandmother knows that this is another step towards her eventual escape attempt. Jacobs’ grandmother does not support her wanting to escape. She views it as nearly
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Harriet Jacobs vs. Fredrick Douglass - Adam Reed Africa and...

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