What is the bookIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs basically about?

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theyellowbookworm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was published in 1861 and was widely thought to be the work of white abolitionist Lydia Marie Child, who edited the work. Recently, scholars agreed that Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the work of African American slave, Harriet Jacobs. The narrative follows the childhood and early adulthood of Harriet Jacobs, who uses the pseudonym Linda Brent, who is born into slavery in 1818. Linda’s grandmother, Aunt Martha, raises Linda after she loses both parents at an early age. The major conflict of the narrative occurs when Linda’s master, Dr. Flint, begins to take a sexual interest in Linda. She fears that Dr. Flint will eventually rape her and, therefore, chooses to enter a relationship with another white man, Mr. Sands, and bears two of his children. Unfortunately, this action causes Linda great mental agony as she fears she has forfeited her morality. Additionally, her grandmother is displeased with her decision and Dr. Flint does not give up his pursuit. In an attempt to escape Dr. Flint’s advances, Linda runs away. However, she cannot flee the area and ultimately hides for seven years in a small attic space above her grandmother’s shed.

After seven years have passed, arrangements are made for Linda to escape North, to New York. In all this time, Dr. Flint has not given up his pursuit and follows Linda, hoping to reclaim his property. In the North, Linda’s sympathetic white employer, Mrs. Bruce, helps Linda elude Dr. Flint for many years. During this time Linda is also reunited with her two children, Ellen and Benny. Mrs. Bruce’s daughter ultimately purchases Linda’s freedom from the Flint family and the novel ends with Linda’s liberation.

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