Essay, Pages 4 (861 words)
This paper discusses Chapters I, II, V, VIII and XI from the book “Incidents in the Life Of A Slave Girl”
“Incidents in the Life Of A Slave Girl” CHAPTER I The conditions of this master-slave relationship are that the slave (Linda) is there to do work for her mistress, or master, which is now her sister’s daughter. Linda is supposed to take care her new owner’s five year old daughter, help plant things, take care of any animals and anything else she is told.
As a slave, she should also do everything else she is told by her master. “After a brief period of suspense, the will of my mistress was read, and we learned that she had bequeathed me to her sister’s daughter, a child of five years old.” I think that before her former master died and she was sent to her master’s sister’s daughter, the conditions were different. Linda’s master taught her how to read and spell, which was a privilege, because most slaves were not taught how to do this.
“While I was with her, she taught me to read and spell; and for this privilege, which so rarely falls to the lot of a slave, I bless her memory.” Chapter II The author’s purpose for including this chapter is to show just how unfairly, and cruelly slaves (she) were treated. People saw the slaves as scapegoats and were blamed for everything. She gives many examples of situations in which someone (one of the masters or mistresses) wasn’t happy with something and blamed it on the slave(s), forcing them to deal with the harsh consequences.
An example is when the cook sends dinner out to Dr. Flint. Sometimes, when he does not like a dish, the cook gets whipped, other times he shoves all the food down the her throat until she chokes. I feel that this is very offensive treatment because that is not a justified reason to do something, as severe as choking someone. Even though she was one of his slaves, instead of doing that, he could have just told her, or even yelled, to cook something different-she would have gotten the point. I guess Dr. Flint, just like many other whites, felt he had to use violence to punish her (even though I totally, strongly, disagree with his decision, it was probably a “regular” thing to do during that time period. She being a slave, was probably used to it. Chapter V Linda shows her strong moral character in many ways. When she was a young girl, and pre-teen, she was offered many of the same things that the mistress’s children were offered. Even though she thought this as only fair, she still offered her help to the members of the family in return for their kindness. Linda also knew that people were to be treated with respect. When Dr. Flint, repeatedly called her bitter names, and abused her, deep down she knew it wasn’t right, and felt he was corrupting her and her pure mind, but chose not to say anything for fear of her serious consequences, even death. She just keeps going on with her life, helping him and his family, deep down inside knowing what he was doing was unjust and cruel. CHAPTER VIII I think that it was very ignorant of the slaveholders to tell their slaves vicious lies about the North. First of all, some of the slaves could read. Being able to read meant being informed (newspapers) of worldly news, such as what was occurring in the North. Did some of the slaveholders really think that their slaves would believe these stories? In Linda’s case, a slaveholder once told her that one of her friends, also being a slave, was in horrendous shape, pleading to be returned to her master. Linda later found out this whole story was untrue, and that this former slave never wished to return to slavery. I’m sure that many slaveholders did this as a tactic to get slaves to think that they had it “good”. The slaveholders probably thought that if they could make the North sound terrible, and impossible to survive in, their slaves wouldn’t want to run away. Although this may have worked in some cases, I’m sure the slaves weren’t that naive. CHAPTER XI After her son was born, Linda has mixed emotions of love and pain. In one sense she loves her son very much and wants his life to continue. She said that when she was sad or depressed, all she had to do was look at him, or watch him “slumber” and she would be happy. In the other sense, she felt like she was hurting her son and wished he had died in infancy. She felt this because he had been born a slave. Born subject to disrespect, cruelty, abuse, and everything else that came with being a slavery. She had once prayed that he would died, and then when he became sick, she prayed that he would become well again. Linda felt that death was better than slavery and didn’t want her son to have to go through the horror that she went through.