The Classic Slave Narratives: Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass and Olaudah Equiano

1985 Words 8 Pages
The book The Classic Slave Narratives is a collection of narratives that includes the historical enslavement experiences in the lives of the former slaves Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, and Olaudah Equiano. They all find ways to advocate for themselves to protect them from some of the horrors of slavery, such as sexual abuse, verbal abuse, imprisonment, beatings, torturing, killings and the nonexistence of civil rights as Americans or rights as human beings. Also, their keen wit and intelligence leads them to their freedom from slavery, and their fight for freedom and justice for all oppressed people.
In the autobiographical writings Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs’ reflects on the times that her master Dr. Flint
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Flint’s motives are not to protect Harriet at all, but to protect herself from the humiliation of his attraction to Harriet and keep her from becoming his mistress. She was not able to hide her true feelings about Harriet. Harriet writes, “I was the object of her jealously, and consequently, of her hatred; and I knew I could not expect kindness…” (Jacobs, p. 477) Though Harriet is very successful at avoiding Dr. Flint’s sexual abuse, she suffers through his verbal and physical abuse, which includes demeaning sexual comments he makes to her and he reminds her that she is his property and does not have a legal right to disobey his commands; he also slaps her when she disagrees with his proposals or expresses her feelings about anything that he does not agree with. Her next strategic move is to consent to a relationship with a white man Mr. Sands, of greater status in the community than Dr. Flint, though it was compromising to her grandmother’s (who she loves and respects dearly) and her own Christian beliefs and morals. This was Harriet’s way of avoiding the sexual exploitation of her master Dr. Flint, by using her sexuality to lure her white lover Mr. Sands, and to divert her master’s attention from her. She did believe that premarital sex was morally wrong; however her rationalization is that at least their relationship was consensual and he was unmarried. Also, since he is not her master he will not have any control over her. She expects