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. 12 Dec. 2017. <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 December 12, 2017, 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 December 12, 2017. 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 December 12, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Introduction by the Editor | Summary

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Summary

Lydia Maria Child describes her role in bringing out the book. Knowing readers might doubt a slave could write as well as the author, she explains how the writer has come by this gift. Acknowledging the potential for accusations of "indecorum" in treating "indelicate" subjects, she says she believes readers should be aware of slavery's monstrous injustices and reiterates Jacobs's call to "conscientious and reflecting" women of the North to exert "moral influence" on the question of slavery. She ends by entreating "every man who reads this narrative [to] swear solemnly that, so far as he has the power to prevent it, no fugitive from Slavery shall ever be sent back to suffer in that loathsome den of corruption and cruelty."

Analysis

Child describes her relationship with the author as "inspir[ing her] with confidence." It's clear she admires Jacobs, because she uses the same rhetorical techniques Jacobs employs throughout the work. While she states her reasons for undertaking the project, her repetition of "I do" evokes a sense of formality, even ceremony. She uses the construction three times, including "I do this for the sake of my sisters in bondage" and "I do it with the hope of arousing conscientious and reflecting women at the North." The sense of ceremony in Child's rhetoric concludes in the final sentence as she exhorts readers to a solemn oath to protect fugitive slaves.

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