Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harriet Jacobs

     I found this reading very interesting.  I have never really read about the master slave girl abusive relationship before this reading.  Jacobs in this story is narrating her adolescent years during which she goes through trials that most adults don't have to endure.  In chapters five through seven, Linda has a generally optimistic outlook on life and her situation even though things look very bleak and she knows deep down there is no hope for her (line 52 chapter six).  It is not until her first true love leaves her, that she realizes her life will be the same torture she has always known (chapter seven line 66).  I think this heartbreak she has is what makes her true character.  I think this situation shows her that she can no longer sit back and be optimistic about the hand that life has shown her but she must look for other ways to reach a better life whether that is through immoral relations with powerful white men or simply running away like she does in the end.
     When Linda was having conflicting emotions about her children and whether or not she wanted them to live, I was reminded of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  I think the same themes of slavery, and the strong motherly drive to protect even if that means no life at all are evident in both works.  Linda makes the statement several times that slavery leaves no room for morals.  Her life certainly proves this point.  At some point, the slave has to decide if she is going to be true to herself and the ones that she loves, which will most likely end in death, or if she is going to choose life however hellish it may be.  
     Even though a large portion of her hope goes away with her first true love, hope is a recurrent theme in this work that keeps leaving and then returning again with a new idea of how to obtain a better life for herself, and then the ultimate crushing of all her plans.  Hope is what keeps Linda going throughout this work.  As soon as she gives up hope, she gives up her life essentially.  She has then surrendered to the fate that the world has decided to hand her.
     One question I have: Is this Jacob's story with Linda posing as herself?  Did she not want to use her own name?


  1. Good comparison to Morrison. It is also a big theme/issue in Beloved.

    Was your question answered in class?

  2. My question was answered in class! Jacobs didn't want to use her real name because of the Fugitive Slave Act. If she was connected with the writing of the book she could have easily been forced to come back to North Carolina to her old master and continue her life as a slave.

  3. I also found this to be an intriguing read. I read it before in another course, and always have the same reaction to it.