Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Harriet Jacobs

Harriet Jacobs tells the story of her life as a slave in this narrative. She tells of being treated well and mistreated. She talks about the trials of having and raising a family.
Jacobs tells this story under pseudonym, Linda. It begins at the right old age of 15. She is owned by a Mr. Flint. Mr. Flint treats her well because he trusts her and likes her as a person. She works hard and does what she is asked to do. However, all of this nice treatment from Mr. Flint does not sit well with his wife, and she becomes jealous. She was many years his junior. Jacobs gives birth to two babies, fathered by a white man (very scandalous for the time), and this outrages Mr. Flint. She chooses to raise those children as slaves, although this would not be the line of work she would optimally choose for her children. As the story progresses, Jacobs begins to take on a heavier workload. Eventually, she becomes outraged by the work and runs away, leaving her children behind.
So after reading this story, I began to think of one of the first slave narratives I ever read, and that was Harriet Tubman's. Tubman lead so many slaves to freedom using the underground railroad, and she, too, ran away from the troubles of slave life. She proved that she had a good strong heart by coming back to free the others from her plantation. Jacobs ran away using similar methods to Tubman. She banked on the kindness of strangers to take her in (regardless of color).
Back in the 1800's racial tension was very strong. Whites and blacks did not mix. The white man was superior to all and the black men, women, and children were his property. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, thus freeing all slaves. This document was meant to be the end of slavery. However, it still dragged on the south. Eventually slavery in America ended altogether, but there was still tension between the blacks and whites. Througout the 1960's in America, Blacks and whites were split up. They couldn't eat in the same room or drink from the same water fountain. This lead to the civil rights movement of the 1960's made famous by Rosa Parks sitting at the front of a bus, a few men sitting at a counter in a diner in Greensboro, NC, and by a little speech given by a man names Martin Luther King Jr. His hopes were that one day blacks and whites could peacefully coexist; that they could sit at a restaurant together. His hopes and dreams were beautiful. While we have come a long way from even the 1960's, we still have racial tension in America that dates back to before Harriet Jacobs.

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