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How is the subject of the slave narrrative Incidents In The Life Of A Slave...

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jakande | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted March 29, 2013 at 2:08 PM via web

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How is the subject of the slave narrrative Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl similar and also different to the subject of the book The Struggle For Freedom: A History Of African Americans?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 13, 2013 at 6:01 AM (Answer #1)

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Both of these works are similar in that they focus on real life narratives and people who experienced slavery in order to build up a picture of what slavery was like. Just as Harriet Jacobs talks about her own experiences of slavery, so too in The Struggle for Freedom, the authors refer to a variety of different slave narratives as they build up their picture of the realities of slavery. The differences between these two texts are that Jacobs' account, as it is written by her and is first hand, is very personal, and as a result there is a lot less distance between the reader and the second hand accounts of slavery in the other text. In addition, as a history text book, there is a focus on history being grounded in struggle in The Struggle for Freedom, with the various accounts of African Americans being used to support the claim that the USA deliver on its constitutional promises. In Jacobs' account, there is no such political agenda. She merely wishes to report the realities of slavery for women, as the opening lines of her account suggest:

READER, be assured this narrative is no fiction. I am aware that some of my adventures may seem incredible; but they are, nevertheless, strictly true. I have not exaggerated the wrongs inflicted by Slavery; on the contrary, my descriptions fall far short of the facts.

The key differences are therefore that Jacobs' account is much more focused and personal, as she writes it herself and it is an example of a primary account concerning slavery. The Struggle for Freedom is different because it is a historical text book with its own agenda based on freedom and the constitution, and it includes the voices of many different African Americans in its pages. The first person account that Jacobs includes creates real sympathy in the mind of the reader with the hardships she has suffered, whereas this impact is lessened with the many different, carefully selected voices that appear in the other text. 

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