Cat-Eyes the Chameleon

Cat-Eyes the Chameleon

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started this book very impressed! Thinking to myself, what an amazing story that this former slave girl was able to teach herself to read and write, or at least that's what I assumed, and ultimately to write this story of her life. I don't recall specific details in the actual book telling us how she actually learned yet she tells of many instances of her receiving notes from her master who was a Doctor. Initially, she hid the fact that she could read from the master by pretending to not know what his note said when he would ask her why she didn't respond.

I was further impressed with how she somehow seemed to maintain her physical 'innocence' to this slave master who clearly was longing to be intimate with her. As these stories continued about how she found ways to avoid his advances I started to wonder if this story was really true. In slave times it was not uncommon for the masters to have sex with the slaves against their will so I found it rather strange that this master was being so "endearing" towards her even in spite of her sassy mouth. Speaking of which, this was another thing I struggled to believe. A sassy mouth was sure to land the slave a severe whipping, but not in this story.

The preface of the book goes on to state that the book did not receive the usual editing in order to maintain an authentic feel and read from the slave girls perspective. However, as I got further and further into the book I again found myself not believing a real slave wrote the book. The one thing that increased this disbelief was when the author stated that if she had a copy of a particular letter she would have included it in the book for the readers to see. However, there are many very detailed quotes from letters that were written, which made me think...out of all these letters that are being quoted you mean to tell me that not ONE letter was preserved to be offered as proof? I highly doubt that. But hey...that's just me, perhaps.

It took me some time to get through this book as I found myself skipping 2-3 days between reading it because it began to be more and more unbelievable, thus it was boring me. I really hate to write this review because I wanted to believe the story, but in the end I just don't.

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