Analytical is harder on families. “Alas, what mockery it

Analytical
Essay

            Imagine being thrust into the 1800’s as a slave, you’re
born without rights, raised as someone’s property, and treated less then human.
This was the world Harriet Jacobs illustrated in her book “Incidents in the
Life of a Slave Girl”. Jacobs takes you on a narrative through her life as a
slave, from losing her childlike innocence to her entering motherhood. The
reader is sucked into an unjust world where white men have all the power, often
abusing it whenever it suits their needs. Following Harriet as she grows up,
has children, eventually escapes and finds freedom not just for herself but
others as well. Placing an emphasis on the bonds that are made between mother
and child and how family ties were almost a cruel form of punishment during
this time. In many ways Jacobs “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” shows
that family was valued above all else even at the cost of one’s own life.

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            Throughout Harriet’s narrative you follow her as she
progresses from innocence to womanhood in such a short period of time. And in
this transition Jacobs portrays such strong emotions in her writing, which is
not uncommon as it comes from a female perspective. “I had not lived fourteen
years in slavery for nothing. I had felt, seen, and heard enough, to read the
characters, and question the motives, of those around me. The war of my life
had begun; and though one of God’s most powerless creatures, I resolved never
to be conquered.” (Jacobs 19). Making this statement at the age of 14 you can
tell Harriot’s already begun to understand her role in society as a slave.
Often fighting and unspoken battle with her owner Dr. Flint in order to keep
her virginity.  Harriet is almost
declaring she knows that her life will be one huge battle, and that she’s not
going down without a fight. Going as far as to take up a relationship with
another slave owner who is more benevolent then her own to protect herself.  This relationship results in not one but two
mixed race children, whom become two of the most important people in Harriot’s
world (Li 19).

Around
the time Harriet bears children you feel and unremarkable sense of grief for
her. One which would be uncommon when introduced to the news that you’re with
child, Jacob’s proves the point that slavery is harder on families. “Alas, what
mockery it is for a slave mother to try to pray back her dying child to life!
Death is better than slavery” (Jacobs 68). In
this sentence it’s almost as if you can feel her grief and sadness for bringing
her children into a world where they wouldn’t be free. Alost saying that while
she wished for them to be happy and healthy she would not despair if they
passed, as it would save them from the life they were about to lead (Krieger
623). “Surely there must be some justice in man;’ then I remembered, with a
sigh, how slavery perverted all the natural feelings of the human heart.  It gave me a pang to look on my light-hearted
boy.  He believed himself free; and to
have him brought under the yoke of slavery, would be more than I could
bear.  How I longed to have him safely
out of the reach of its power!” (Jacobs 216).  Harriet’s children are like a weight around
her neck, when it was her by herself she could focus on warding off Dr. Flint
and look toward her future with a possibility of freedom. After having children
you see a change in her tone where she yearns for freedom yet can’t bring herself
to leave them, they are her only source of happiness but yet they also inhibit
her from attaining it.

You
could make the statement that it is the strongest gesture of love are the actions
that she takes to keep her children safe. One which stands out from the rest
would be her so called “escape” where she hides in an attic for seven years
unable to sit nor stand (Jaocbs). She stays there for so long not for lack of
wanting to leave, but because there was no possible means for her to leave the
town without being found. Then it’s the fact that her children are still there,
where she can watch over them, her kids who above all else she loves and wants
to protect (Li 21). The reader may wonder why Jacobs doesn’t leave the attic
and travel north to send for her children later, but a good mother never leaves
her children. And as Jacobs shows time and time again she strives to be a good
woman in every way (Krieger 610). Harriot’s kids marked a change in her
priorities, no longer was she concerned about protecting herself but was now
heavily invested in the wellbeing of her children. Going to extreme lengths to
protect them from Dr. Flint who would do anything to, so long as it had an
impact Harriot.

As
a slave you have control over very little in your life, and maybe that’s why it
makes the bonds of family so much stronger. For Harriet, who owns nothing and
has nothing her children become her entire world, she gives a whole new meaning
to the words a mother’s love. She has continuously thought about her freedom
last and the security of her children first. She has left them countless times
in order to ensure that they would have a good life and that they would be safe
(Krieger 617). She has laid down her own life in order to make sure that theirs
wouldn’t be hindered. So when she finally achieves that freedom not just for her
but her children also, I think it’s at this point that she comes to realize
that the whole institution of slavery is an abomination. That this freedom she
has chased for so long was something she should have had from the very beginning.
“The dream of my life is not yet realized. I do not sit with my children in a
home of my own. I still long for a hearthstone of my own, however humble.” (Jacobs
225).  A statement made towards the end
of her book as it is coming to a close, she tell the reader that in many ways
the real fight for freedom has just begun. While she has achieved freedom there
is no happy ending until her family can once again be together without the
threat of separation or harm (Krieger 610).