What is the role of miscegenation in the novel "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"? 

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The heinous practice of misceganation in the antebellum South is explored in this autobiographical novel by Harriet Jacobs.  Linda, the main character, is born into slavery, but her parents are fairly well-treated and well taken care of, as slaves go, and her early childhood is spent in a happy home situation.  When Linda's mother dies, Linda is sent to the mistress her mother served, where she is, again, treated fairly well, and taught to read and write.  However, Linda's luck does not hold when her mistress dies; Linda is given to some relatives who do not treat her well, and where her new owner pressures her to have sex.  She works hard to avoid this, and ultimately consents to an affair with a neighboring white man, with whom she has two children, in an effort to avoid her disgusting owner.  Her hope is that by doing so, her owner will be irritated and sell her; however, he instead gets revenge by sending her to work in the fields.

One thing about Linda's (Harriet's) situation that likely differed from that of many slave women during the time before the Civil War was the fact that she had a choice--sort of--in refusing Dr. Flint.  She was able to keep him at bay, and ultimately, find an "alternate" relationship and thereby avoid him.  Most slave women who were "visited" by the owners of their plantations were not offered a choice in the matter.

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