A narrative that describes a young girl’s trails and tribulations while being an involuntary member of the institution of slavery, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl attempts to open many eyes to the world of slavery. The author, Harriet Jacobs, wishes those in north would do more to put a stop to the destructive practice entitled slavery. As Jacobs states, slavery contains a de-constructive force that effects to all who surround it. It tears apart families (both white and black). Jacobs confronts her reader one on one in order to reemphasize her point. In addition, she uses the family and sentiment to appeal to and challenge her 19th century white female readers in order to effectively gain their support in the movement for abolition.
What is Jacobs hoping to find? She looks for northern women that will recognize that they have a duty and an obligation to put a stop to slavery in the south, as well as the recapture and trading of runaway slaves in the north. Along with recognizing the obvious, Jacobs wants these women to act upon such injustices. To take into their hands the duty of putting a stop this demoralizing, destructive way of life (the slavery way of life). This lifestyle taints all who take part in it with a stench of a repulsing evil. Attached to all involved (good and bad), this devilish smell carries the strength of hatred with it. “I was struggling alone in the powerful grasp of the demon Slavery; and the monster proved too strong for me” (Brent 54).
Jacobs deems it necessary to gain emotional support from her reader by writing in a way that allows her to draw sympathy from the reader. Kindling a flame of passion in all who read this book, Jacobs attempts to light a fire under those who are not impartial to slavery. Intended to spread to the North, this fire does not burn the skin, but torches the spirit. One would call it a pilot light for freedom.
Ripping apart families, slavery contains awful feelings in association with it. The stripping of children from their mother’s arms, the cries of a son for his father, the tears a grandmother sheds for her lost brethren; all tear holes in the spirit and soul of their victims. Jacobs knows the sympathy felt from one mother to another when a situation involves losing a child. Knowing this and using it to appeal to readers, Harriet related to them with a strong message of family. Slave families were not the only ones affected. That is why Mr. And Mrs. Flint played such a grand role.
In her writing Jacobs appeals to readers through the use family. Grabbing them emotionally, she confronts her readers on a personal level. By confronting their silence, and their inability to stand up for what the obvious injustices taking place. She confronts the fact that someone needs to put a stop to an evil that should not be taking place. She confronts them by questioning their nature as a mother, a father, a family member, or even their nature as a human. Most have no answer. That is, most have no humane answer.
Harriet Jacobs, the author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, attempts to emotionally stimulate her readers. She looks for support. A support that will help put a stop to slavery. Slavery destroys families and morals as well. Why would people remain silent if they have an opinion to voice? Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl motivates these voices to be heard. Jacobs asks her reader a very simple question in order to reemphasize her point, why? Now another questions remains, how much can one people take? Once fed up, people do not accept it anymore. If you were full, would you go back for second?
Word Count: 643