• Research Paper on:
    Author's Intentions and Objectives in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

    Number of Pages: 5


    Summary of the research paper:

    In five pages this paper discusses the era's gender roles in a consideration of the author's intentions and objectives as represented by her slave narrative. Three sources are cited in the bibliography.

    Name of Research Paper File: D0_khhjsg3.rtf

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    riveting account of the injustices that Jacob suffered as an enslaved woman in the antebellum South. She chronicles her life as a slave, which includes her masters attempts to control  her sexually, and how she countered this domination by attempting to use her sexuality as a form of resistance. She recounts how she hid in her grandmothers attic and, finally,  she tells how she escaped, and her efforts to create a new life. As with other slave narratives of this period, the primary purpose of Jacobs book is to  reach a white readership and convince them, through her narrative, of her humanity. The rationalization for slavery was that Africans were not really human, more on a level with animals  than with European-descended people. Slave laws in the South made it possible to treat a person precisely as if they were livestock. Therefore, Jacobs first goal is to present herself  as an intelligent, feeling human being, a person who reacted to slavery as anyone would react. However, in addition to this goal, which Jacobs shared with male ex-slave authors, Jacobs  also wanted her readers to see her as a woman of the same moral character as her white counterparts. This was an age that valued chastity above all else  as the defining characteristic of an unmarried woman. In other words, according to the cultural definition of femininity a "good" woman, a "true" woman, did not have sexual intercourse outside  of marriage. Literature from that time indicates that female sexuality was barely tolerated within marriage, as this part of human existence was seen as something that a "good" woman simply  tolerated for the sake of her husband, and a desire for children. However, as Drake (1997) points out, Jacobs, as a slave woman, was denied access to cultural definitions 

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