Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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matthew mckeon

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Oct 3, 2005
Surprised to find no previous Harriet Jacobs threads.

Finished this book last night. I had read a section of it before, but this is the first time from first to last.

Written on the eve of the Civil War, Jacobs uses a pseudonym: Linda Brent, to protect the people she left behind when she escaped. What is interesting about Jacobs' book is she puts sexual exploitation front and center of her account. The most intense section is her long, very unequal contest between her and her master "Doctor Flint" actually Dr. John Norcom.

While Flint simply could have raped the young teen, he was partly held back by public opinion, and partly he was obviously depriving a great deal of pleasure from frightening Harriet, using obscene language to her and finding various ways, both physically and verbally to degrade her, a pleasure that was apparently more intense than plain sexual assault. He wanted some sort of submission from her she wouldn't make.

Eventually Jacobs concealed herself, Anne Frank fashion in the attic of sympathetic people's houses, and would make her escape to the North.

I'm leaving a lot out, but recommended, if tough reading.
 
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