Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an autobiography by Harriet Jacobs, a young mother and fugitive slave. The book documents Jacobs’ life as a slave and how she gained freedom for herself and for her children. She explores the struggles and sexual abuse that female slaves faced on plantations as well as their efforts to practice motherhood and protect their families when their children might be sold away. Harriet Jacobs contributed to the genre of slave narratives by using the techniques of sentimental novels to address race and gender issues. In the book, Jacobs addresses white Northern women who fail to comprehend the evils of slavery. She makes direct appeals to their humanity to expand their knowledge and influence their thoughts about slavery as an institution. The books’ publication in 1861 coincided with the start of the American Civil War, attracting some attention as it addressed themes highlighted by the abolitionist movement.
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