In Harriet Jacobs’s autobiographical novel, Linda flees the abusive control of the Flint family. Fearful of being captured as a fugitive, she takes refuge in a tiny attic space that Betty offers her. For the seven years that she remains there, her position is ambiguous. Legally, she remains a slave, and every day that she stays away from the Flints’ estate, she continues to break the law. This enslaved status is thus a matter of continuous degradation.
For the time being, although she has chosen these living conditions, she is in some ways more dependent than she was previously. She can do nothing to provide her own sustenance. She must stay inside, because if she were seen outside, she would be arrested, returned, and severely punished. Thus, she continues to live in fear. When she looks out and sees her children, she is constantly reminded that she left them and feels guilty over her inability to care for them.
The idea of salvation also applies to Linda’s position. Every day that she stays hidden is a day she is out of the Flints’ direct control. Above all, she has hope—both for herself and the children. Linda knows that Betty is on her side and the possibility of leaving slavery remains open. As long as her optimism has a solid foundation, she can dream of achieving freedom for her children as well as herself. This hope is shown by her ability to see outside and look toward heaven.