Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Study Guide

Harriet Jacobs

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Course Hero. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/>.

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Course Hero. (2016, November 28). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/

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Course Hero. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed November 12, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/.

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Course Hero, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed November 12, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Chapter 11 : The New Tie to Life | Summary

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Summary

Mrs. Flint bans Linda from her house, and Linda returns to live at Aunt Martha's. Mr. Sands promises to take care of the child and Linda.

While visiting, Dr. Flint asks if the child's father is white or black. When she answers, he grabs her arm and asks if she loves the man. When she answers that she doesn't despise her lover, he raises his hand to her and threatens murder. He tells her if she cuts off communication with the father, he will support them. When Linda refuses, her master swears he'll never sell her.

Bedridden for weeks Linda gives birth prematurely to a boy, whose name we later learn is Benny. She overhears a doctor say she will die. During visits Dr. Flint takes over her care, reminding Linda that her son is his slave.

Linda shares intimate thoughts and details about her early life as a mother. She loves to watch her baby sleep, but this pleasure is quickly soured: "always there was a dark cloud over my enjoyment." She admits that while her son was sick she hoped he would die so he would not have to suffer slavery. She insists "Death is better than slavery."

Analysis

Linda Brent shows how motherhood, an experience both physical and spiritual for many mothers, is cruelly diminished by the system of slavery. She is a slave, so she cannot wholeheartedly experience commonplace joys like watching her baby sleep. These moments are ruined by her knowledge of what awaits her young son; she cannot "forget that he [i]s a slave." The legal system ensures a female slave's children are slaves, too, and Linda can't be happy knowing her own child is someone else's property.

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