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 17 : The Flight | Summary



Mr. and Mrs. Flint invite Linda to work and sleep in the house, and Linda, knowing this means they are afraid she will leave them, decides to leave immediately. One night she waits until after midnight, then jumps out the window and makes her way to her grandmother's house, rousing a friend named Sally who is living there with Martha. Sally admonishes Linda, telling her that Mr. Sands wants to help Linda's grandmother to buy her and the children. Linda replies that the Flints will never sell the children so long as Linda is in their power. She takes one more look at her children, then goes to the home of another friend.

The next morning Mr. Flint visits Aunt Martha's to ask about Linda. When her grandmother insists she doesn't know anything, he threatens 500 lashes to anyone who helps Linda. The news of Linda's escape also enrages Mr. Flint's father, Dr. Flint, who posts advertisements offering a $300 reward for Linda's capture "for miles around."


Even though Linda flees his son's plantation, the vindictive Dr. Flint is the one who organizes the search. Now stormy images describe Dr. Flint's fury—the news makes "the old doctor rave and storm at a furious rate." Aunt Martha's house and all departing vessels are searched, which exposes slaves' lack of rights and slaveholders' immense power. Anyone who enters Aunt Martha's house is watched closely. The chapter ends with the reward sign, posted everywhere nearby, for Linda's capture. This shows Dr. Flint's obsession with power and foreshadows the long journey ahead of Linda.

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