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. 18 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 18, 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 18, 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 18, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Incidents-in-the-Life-of-a-Slave-Girl/.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Preface by the Author | Summary

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Summary

Signing the preface with her pseudonym, Linda Brent, the author Harriet Jacobs assures readers the "incredible" events of her life are true. She states her reason for writing isn't to get attention or sympathy but to inform free Northern women of the realities of slavery, particularly the poor conditions in which 2,000,000 enslaved women live.

Writing as Linda Brent, Jacobs displays her humble nature by stating "I want to add my testimony to that of abler pens to convince the people of the Free States what Slavery really is." She ends the preface by asking God to bless her "imperfect effort."

Analysis

Jacobs states the purpose for writing her autobiography upfront: it is a call to action to Northern women who have the power of persuasion and the ability to take action to end slavery. She explains she changes the names of people and places only to be considerate. Having escaped slavery, she says "it would have been more pleasant to me to have been silent" and leave her past in the South, but she can't forget the women whose situations are "far worse" than her own and hopes to improve their circumstances. She describes her humble nature and disparages her own work, referring to "abler pens" and her "imperfect effort" as a way of portraying herself as a narrator who is sympathetic as well as credible.

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