I am writing a four-page essay on how Jacobs’s book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl portrays the unique experience of women in slavery. What would be a strong thesis statement for this purpose?

A strong thesis statement about the unique experience of women in slavery as portrayed in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl could discuss Linda Brent’s particular vulnerability to sexual assault.

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A strong thesis statement about the unique experience of women in slavery could center on sexuality. A thesis might argue that Linda Brent is subject to specific sexual threats because of her gender. At fifteen, Brent writes that her master, Dr. Flint, started to “whisper foul words” in her ear. Jacobs has to deal with Flint’s predatory advances because she’s a girl. If she was like her uncle Benjamin or her brother William, she would still face horrific abuses, but likely not the sexual assault.

Another thesis could try and discuss the ways in which women in slavery attempted to use their sexuality to their advantage. To get away from Flint, Brent has a sexual relationship with the slightly less sinister Mr. Sands. In the case of Brent, it’s possible to argue that, ultimately, sexuality could not be deployed on her behalf. In the end, Brent’s plan backfires. Flint doesn’t sell Brent to Sands but makes her suffer in “the fields from morning to night.”

Brent’s grueling labor in the fields might lead to a thesis that argues that women were not only subject to sexual abuse but also to the general abuse and hardship suffered by men. Without dismissing the suffering of the Black men in Brent’s life, it’s possible to claim that Black women in slavery faced twice the amount of torture. They had to deal with the overall inhumanity of slavery and the specific cruelties connected to being an enslaved woman.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 18, 2021
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