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 33 : A Home Found | Summary



Linda gains employment as a nursemaid for the Bruces; she is glad to work for them, for they are English and she has heard the English are less prejudiced than Americans. After a month the stairs cause her limbs to swell, rendering her unable to work. Kind Mrs. Bruce makes adjustments to keep her on and finds her treatment.

Ellen visits Linda in Manhattan, carrying Mrs. Hobbs's requests for Linda to buy Ellen new clothing and empty promises to repay her. When Mrs. Bruce volunteers to send Ellen to her oculist for her eye problems, Mrs. Hobbs gets angry. She pretends she wants Ellen to see her own eye doctor, but Linda suspects her real motive is fear of losing her property. "My knowledge of Southerners made it difficult for me to feel otherwise," she says.

While tending to Mrs. Bruce's baby, little Mary, Linda sees a sailor in the street who turns out to be her brother William. They visit Ellen, and he stays a week.


Linda struggles to find work; most of the jobs she applies for require recommendations, which she can't obtain from the Flints, the slaveholders she fled. This exposes the way racism further enslaves fugitives on free soil.

Linda's reluctance to trust others makes her hold Mrs. Bruce at a distance, even though she has shown Linda many kindnesses. In New York she longs for friendship, but when white people are kind to her, she assumes it is for a "selfish purpose." After a time she begins trusting Mrs. Bruce, and her emotional state improves. However, the duplicity of Mrs. Hobbs in not wanting to let Ellen out of her sight raises Linda's suspicions about the motives of white people once again. As she says, her experience as an enslaved person in the South has made it hard for her to see whites any other way.

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