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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 35 : Prejudice Against Color | Summary



Linda travels to Albany with the Bruces, but her relief at escaping the city turns to discouragement as she is given racist treatment at the dinner table on the steamboat. White nurses are treated kindly while Linda is denied tea. She is especially discouraged that the man who orders her away is black.

After returning to New York the Bruces arrange to spend the rest of the summer by the sea in Rockaway, New York. Before leaving, Linda visits Ellen, who begs her not to enter the house because someone from their hometown is visiting. Linda agrees and promises to visit when she gets back. At first Linda is uncomfortable. At the fashionable hotel a waiter tells her to seat Mrs. Bruce's child in a chair and stand behind it to feed her. Then, he says, Linda will be "shown to the kitchen, where you will have a good supper." Linda says nothing, but takes the child to her room, where Mr. Bruce orders in meals. When the waiters complain about this, Linda insists on equal treatment at the table and receives it.


Linda's trip to Albany is clouded by racist treatment. Her expectations of life on free soil continue to be tarnished by whites—Mrs. Hobbs, Mr. Sands, and the people she encounters in public places who try to deny her service.

As Linda found solace in her family earlier, now she is comforted by Mrs. Bruce, who has proved to be her ally with her constant generosity and sensitivity to injustice. Eventually Linda, who is always determined even when she is powerless, confronts the Rockaway staff about their unwarranted "difference of treatment." To her surprise Linda is pleased to discover standing up for herself in the North—unlike the South—has positive effects.

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