A Question of Ethics in 'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl'

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A Question of Ethics? In the autobiographical work entitled Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the protagonist, Linda Brent (which is actually a mere pseudonym for author Harriet Jacobs, faces an ethical dilemma that is highly emblematic of one of the core problems of slavery, especially for female slaves. Essentially, the dilemma involves allowing herself to be raped by her slave master, Dr. Sands, or to lose her feminine virtue to another Caucasian pursuer, Mr. Sands. Jacobs solves the dilemma by opting for the latter choice, which she does in order to avoid the lesser of two evils rape at the hands of her master. In this respect, Jacobs is able to act as a person with agency although the course of action she chooses demonstrates that she is still a victim of slavery. To that end, her problematic choice does represent a limited degree of liberation that is not truly liberating, since she is still forced to make a decision. True liberation implies that Jacobs would not be forced to do anything, and could make choices as she pleases. When faced with this ethical dilemma that is representative of a common plight for most slave women, Jacobs must still forsake her virtues as a woman. In order to truly understand the ethics at work in Jacobs' decision to choose to sleep with Mr. Sands, who she eventually spawns a pair of children with, one must look into the particulars of Jacobs' situation as a slave girl. Dr. Flint is her legal owner, and as such, could choose to do
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