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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 25 : Competition in Cunning | Summary



Dr. Flint continues his attempt to snare Linda by promising freedom. To deceive him she writes the doctor and Aunt Martha phony letters from New York. Peter finds someone to carry and mail the letters from the North. She warns her grandmother and Nancy of her plan, so they aren't surprised. When Dr. Flint arrives Linda eavesdrops. He reads a forged letter of his own devising, trying to trick them into bringing her back; in his forged letter he depicts Linda as miserable and bitterly regretting her escape. Martha worries over the letters, and Linda asks her to be patient.

Linda has now been in her hiding place for nearly five years. She begins to slip down into the storeroom below her cell for a short time in the early mornings.


In this chapter Dr. Flint and Linda forge letters to each other. It's an unfair match: a fugitive slave hiding in a garret with minimal resources versus a wealthy and well-connected doctor. In response to Linda's forged letter in which she tries to convince Dr. Flint she is in New York, he forges a letter in which he lies to the entire family to trap his slave for revenge.

Because Dr. Flint accidentally reveals he has written to Boston's mayor to verify Linda's mailing address, she knows she has outsmarted Dr. Flint, who has power and privilege on his side. By coupling her literacy with her tight-knit community, she is able to distract Dr. Flint. This relief gains Linda's family some peace, and the exercise she begins to take brings her a step closer to escaping.

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