English 1A


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Directions: Read I-IV answer questions in detail.

1.) Explain in detail why you think the author of the autobiography Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl uses two names, Harriet Jacobs and Linda Brent? Explain in detail.

2.) Explain in detail, what does the author mean when she writes in the “preface” of her autobiography, ” I wish I were more competent to the task I have undertaken” ( 367)?

3.) Explain in detail, why do you think Harriet Jacobs offers a “shout out” to a specific group of women in her “preface” when she writes, “But I do earnestly desire to arouse the women of the North to a realizing sense of the condition of two millions of women at the South. . . ” (369)?

4.) Many slave narratives and autobiographies begin with the words, ” I was born a slave. . . ” Not so, in Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography. In fact, Jacobs writes that when she was young, she did not even know that she was a slave. Explain in detail, how this could be the case?

5.) Many historians acknowledge that while slavery was an “evil institution” for all slaves and slave masters, that the institution of American slavery was arguably harder for women slaves compared to male slaves. Understanding that all slaves suffered, why do you think that historians acknowledge that slavery was harder for female slaves? Explain in detail.

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