A Personal Narrative Of Harriet Jacobs Life As A Slave

Improved Essays
After reading about Harriet Jacobs’ life as a slave, the book expanded my understanding of the lifestyle that many African Americans lived during slavery. Although they may not be as close to Jacobs’ journey, they all fought for freedom. In this essay, I will be writing about the four different topics that we were assigned. First, I will be talking about Jacobs’ racial identity and her experiences in the south. Then I will talk about how gender and religion impacted on her life. And lastly, I will bring up why many readers believe this book is should be considered a novel over a personal narrative. During Jacobs’ childhood, she and her brother had to suffer the death of her parents. Jacobs was still property of her mother’s mistress, until …show more content…
Female slaves were treated as sexual objects in the south. She experienced a lot of harassment from Dr. Norcom during her time her teen years. “But I now entered on my fifteenth year—a sad epoch in the life of a slave girl. My master began to whisper foul words in my ear… the master’s age, my extreme youth.” (26). He even went the extra mile to build a small deserted cottage just so he can have his own privacy with Jacobs. Just reading about her experience gave me the chills and how barbaric Dr. Norcom was towards Jacobs. As a result, Jacobs impregnated herself with a freeman named Samuel Sawyer and had two children. She had hoped that her plan would lead Dr. Norcom to sell her family to Mr. Sawyer, but she failed and Dr. Norcom threatened to sell the children. “When they told me my new-born babe was a girl, my heart was heavier than ever been before. Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.” (66). Jacobs is frightful that her daughter would experience the same treatment as Dr. Norcom has treated Jacobs. But for many slaves living in the plantations, religion brings some …show more content…
She explained that if a white man were to commit any atrocious crime such as murder, they will still be considered religious if they give back to the church in any form. But if a black man were to disobey their masters they would be considered sinful. As a result, Jacobs denies her faith in God for all the incidents that were occurring in her life. Her morality went down along with her faith, leading her to no longer care if her child were to die. “I had often prayed for death; but now I did not want to die, unless my child could die too.” (53). But in the midst of all Jacobs continued on, eventually into freedom.
Before Jacobs escaped to the north, she hid in her grandmother’s attic to make sure she tricked Dr. Norcom that she actually fled. But many readers doubt the reality of the book because Jacobs began telling stories and gave backgrounds of her family in between the chapters while she was hiding in the attic. And not to mention, she did not use her real name, she used a pseudonym, Linda. In sum, even if this book were to be a novel, slavery is still engraved in America’s past. Jacobs’ book is a prime example of what terrible incidents many slaves experienced in the south. From mistreatment from masters to slaves and sexual abusement of female slaves, it must have not been a pretty sight. Many were lucky enough to escape just as Jacobs and her

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