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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Study Guide

Harriet Jacobs

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Chapter 14 : Another Link to Life | Summary



Dr. Flint learns Linda is expecting a second child, and his agitation grows. As punishment he cuts off her hair and strikes her. Dr. Flint visits every day to insult her. Linda, who is still living at Aunt Martha's, hides the verbal attacks from her grandmother. When he asks to see the baby, little Ellen, he notices the resemblance between the child and Mr. Sands. He then curses Linda and Ellen so severely that Linda faints. While Dr. Flint travels Linda baptizes her children.

For Ellen's baptism, Ellen's namesake (the old mistress of Linda's father) gives the baby a gold chain. As she fastens it around Ellen's neck, Linda is overcome with negative feelings. She wants "no chain" to be fastened on her daughter "even if its links were of gold."


When Linda refuses Dr. Flint's sexual offers not only verbally but also nonverbally in the form of another pregnancy, he threatens to sell her child to "humble" her. Knowing the law supports her master's threat, Linda becomes desperate to protect her children. At 19, only motherhood saves her from wanting to die; such is the extremity of the physical and emotional turmoil that slavery and Dr. Flint's vicious treatment cause her. Because the legal system is corrupt, Linda struggles with her lack of choices.

But even motherhood, Linda's refuge, cannot remain untouched by slavery. The aversion to a gold chain given out of love reflects how deeply traumatized Linda is by her circumstances and how strongly she is motivated to change circumstances for her children.

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