Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl again

To grasp and captivate her audience in a way that the

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To grasp and captivate her audience in a way that the reader can understand another society, Jacobs uses hard hitting literary devices. Her tone and voice are exemplified through the slaves understanding of the cruelty of slavery. Jacobs writes: I shall never forget that night. Never before, in my life, had I heard hundreds of blows fall, in succession, on a human being. His piteous groans, and his ‘O, pray don’t, massa,’ rang in my ear for months afterwards (Jacobs 436). The horrible atrocities that are described in the story are all intended to disturb and change the reader’s beliefs. This connection the writer is trying to make between two cultures (master and slave) is an example of an “autoethnographic” text. According to Pratt, an autoethnographic text is: a text in which people undertake to describe themselves in the terms in ways that engage with representations others have made of them (Pratt 608). In other words, a writer attempts to explain an unfamiliar culture to the masses of a separate society in terms they can understand. The definition of an autoethnographic text may sound similar to a personal persuasive essay but in 2
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comparison, an autoethnographic text serves to convince others outside the immediate society, whereas a personal persuasive essay provides an opinion from oneself to anyone. As a fine example of an autoethnographic text, Jacobs writes: She had laid up three hundred dollars, which her mistress one day begged as a loan, promising to pay her soon. The reader probably knows that no promise or writing given to a slave is legally binding; for, according to Southern laws, a slave, being property, can hold no property (Jacobs 431). If Jacobs were aware of what an autoethnographic text was, I believe she would consider her work to be one; for her story was written during the era of slavery to prove how wrong human bondage is in society.
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