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The Primary Function Of The American Slave Narrative

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The primary function of the American slave narrative in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was to garner the support of abolitionists and deconstruct the system of chattel slavery. Through authentic and personal accounts of slavery through the voice of those who endured slavery first hand, slave narratives served as proof to abolitionists of the corruption of slavery. In Harriet Jacobs 's slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jacobs explicitly addresses white women of the North in hopes that they may see the humanity of enslaved people. Throughout her autobiography, Harriet Jacobs subverts the dominant image of the “immoral Black woman” by asserting her agency and redefining morality in order to appeal to white women…show more content…
In fact, Flint destroys the “pure principles” that Black women such as Jacobs’s grandmother try to instill in the younger generation of Black girls. Above all, Jacob’s recognition of her loss of innocence is significant because it forces white women to acknowledge that despite the sexualized image of enslaved Black women, Black women also experience girlhood; this girlhood, however, is short-lived and corrupted “prematurely” by white men. Hence, Black women are not impure, but rather victims of sexual violations and dehumanization at the hands of those responsible for instituting chattel slavery.
Furthermore, Jacobs presents her sexuality as a form of agency in order to defend Black women against the morals of white women. In doing so, she appeals to the conscious of white women of the North by highlighting the way in which oppression deprives Black women of the freedoms given to white women. As Dr. Flint continues to harass and abuse Linda, the pseudonym of Harriet Jacobs, another man enters her life. Jacobs describes Mr. Sands, another slavemaster, as a friend of sorts who shows her sympathy and to some extent tries to protect her and her children from Dr. Flint. In regard, to the relationship between Mr. Sands and herself, Jacob explains:
I knew the impassable gulf between us; but to be an object of interest to a man who is not married, and who is not her master, is agreeable to the pride and feelings of a slave, if her miserable
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