In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, what are Harriet’s feelings about her life before she was six years old and after?

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Harriet Jacobs, who used the pseudonym Linda Brent, is the author of the autobiography Incidents in The Life of a Slave Girl. Although we are not told much about the life of the slave girl before she turned six, we get a glimpse of what life was like initially. Right from the first paragraph, Harriet starts by saying that she enjoyed six years of a happy childhood. She says that she never knew she was a slave during the first six years of her childhood.

I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away.

Before she turns six, Harriet lives with her family. She is in the company of her mother, her brother William, and her grandmother, Aunt Marthy. Her grandmother and her mother give her protection against the reality of slavery. However, when Harriet is six, her mother dies, and life changes in several ways. She finds out that she is a slave and the property of her mistress.

There is also a positive change in her life after the death of her mother. She is put under the care of her new mistress, where she gains some education. Although she has to sew for hours, she also gains education, which plays a positive role in her life afterward.

However, when Harriet is twelve, her good mistress dies, and life changes for the worse when she is given away to Dr. Flint as property. She is harassed physically and sexually by the doctor and his wife. Her life turns into tragedy after tragedy from then on. She is denied the chance to marry the love of her life when she falls in love with a black man. Eventually, she marries a white man and has two children. Life does not get better for her or her children until she hides and escapes from her slave master, Dr. Flint.

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The answer to your question hinges on the point when Harriet Jacobs learns she is a slave. Before this time, Harriet's life is wonderful. After she turns six (and she learns the truth), Harriet's life gets worse and worse.

Harriet Jacobs (who is commonly known as the main character, Linda Brent) admits that she did not realize she was a slave until she was six years of age. We learn this in the very first line of the book from the chapter entitled "Childhood":

I was born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away. ... When I was six years old, my mother died; and then, for the first time, I learned, by the talk around me, that I was a slave. 

Harriet Jacobs talks about their "comfortable home" at this time, how experienced and esteemed her father is as a carpenter, and how she enjoys living near her grandmother, "Aunt Marthy." It is at six years old that Harriet's mother dies. Harriet then finds herself in the home of her first mistress, who is a decent woman. Harriet sits by her mistress' side, sews for hours, and is even taught to read. It is only when this mistress dies that Harriet is given as property to Dr. Flint. At this point, Harriet admits that she becomes "chattel" because she is given, as property, to Dr. Flint, who continually harasses her both verbally and sexually.

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