What do you think was the strongest force in Harriet Jacob's life: the institution of slavery, her religious beliefs, or her ethnic background?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is a difficult question to answer, because for Jacobs, these three things were intertwined, especially slavery and her ethnic background. I would argue that the institution of slavery is the strongest force in her life, at least as it is portrayed in Incidents. Indeed, it is important to remember that, though authentic in the events it portrays, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was a document of the abolitionist movement, produced for the purpose of bringing to light the brutality and degredation that characterized slavery. Slavery and its indiginities are the central fact of "Linda's" life, as she attempts to escape the relentless pursuit of Dr. Flint by first having children with a free black carpenter and then by hiding away in her grandmother's shed for seven whole years before making good her escape. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is first and foremost a critique of the the institution of slavery itself.

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