illustrated portrait of main character Linda Brent

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by Harriet Jacobs
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How nice are Mrs. Durham and Mrs. Bruce to Linda in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl? Give examples.

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Mrs. Durham and Mrs. Bruce both treat the author with great kindness. When she arrives in Philadelphia, Mrs. Durham welcomes her and tactfully refrains from troubling her with questions. Jacobs recalls that she was tired, and Mrs. Durham's "friendly manner was a sweet refreshment." Mrs. Durham introduces Jacobs to a sympathetic friend who can help her and, though she initially refrains from asking questions when she sees that her guest is tired, later shows great interest in and concern for her situation.

Mrs. Bruce is even more helpful. Jacobs describes her as "a kind and gentle lady, and ... a true and sympathizing friend." Soon after she arrives at the Bruces' house, the author begins to suffer from swollen limbs, which cause her considerable pain and prevents her from working. She observes:

Many ladies would have thoughtlessly discharged me; but Mrs. Bruce made arrangements to save me steps, and employed a physician to attend upon me.

Jacobs is suspicious of everyone after her harsh treatment at the hands of the Flints and initially wonders why Mrs. Bruce treats her so kindly. She avoids telling Mrs. Bruce that she is a fugitive slave, but eventually Mrs. Bruce's kindness leads her to reveal her situation. When she does so, Mrs. Bruce's response is exactly as she had hoped:

She listened with true womanly sympathy, and told me she would do all she could to protect me. How my heart blessed her!

Mrs. Bruce is also apparently quite free from racial prejudice and does her best to shield the author from its effects. When they are on a steamboat together and the staff refuse to serve a black woman, Mrs. Bruce promptly hands Jacobs the cup of tea which they have just served her, then demands another for herself.

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