Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Study Guide

Harriet Jacobs

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Course Hero. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 24 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/>.

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Course Hero. (2016, November 28). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/

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Course Hero. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/.

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Course Hero, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed September 24, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Chapter 7 : The Lover | Summary

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Summary

Linda begins the chapter with the rhetorical question "Why does the slave ever love?" She tells of her romance with a childhood friend, a free black carpenter. When he proposes, she realizes marriage between a free black and a slave is prohibited. Even though he offers to purchase her freedom, she knows Dr. Flint will refuse. When Dr. Flint confronts her about her lover, she admits she loves the man, and Dr. Flint hits her.

After weeks of silence Dr. Flint says he plans to leave for Louisiana and requests her, along with others, to accompany him. She requests to stay with her mistress. When Mr. Flint visits Louisiana and returns to say that he does not want to move there, the plan fails. Dr. Flint catches Linda and her lover talking in the street, and he hits her again. She asks her lover to leave her and go to the free states. After ending the relationship she confesses that her "lamp of hope" has gone out. Her grandmother and her brother William comfort her.

Analysis

The somber question "Why does the slave ever love?" sets the tone for the chapter. Linda forfeits her happiness to protect the man she loves.

One reason Linda asks her lover to move on, and the cause of one of Linda's major anxieties, is the law that states children follow their mother's "condition." If she and her lover have children together, their children will be slaves. The extinguished lamp, symbol of light and darkness, emphasizes Linda's heartbroken dejection.

Imagery is also used to describe the first time Dr. Flint strikes Linda. His voice is described as "thundering." Because thunder accompanies a storm, this image likens Dr. Flint's violence to nature, signifying Linda's helplessness and the devastating potential of her master's anger.

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