My experiences of the slave narratives

I had very unique experiences with both of these books. Having read Frederick Douglass’ book first, I had even more feelings for the story told by Harriet Jacobs. I am amazed at how much emotion translated into me from the page. In every piece we’ve read in class about slavery, those that use symbolic annihilation and those that don’t, the stories are never that truthful. From what I read, the biggest difference in a narrative and an article regarding slavery is the emotion. Through a personal account, the reader is able to actually see what slave like was like. There was descriptions in these pieces but in there was no voice behind them. In the narratives there is a voice behind every detail in the stories.

Another difference I noticed was the way in which the stories are told. The narrative form makes the book seem almost like a novel. The details and struggles that the slaves experienced were not just listed there but were told in a way that you feel as though you sat and watched this experience occur. Any other form of slave writing leaves the reader understanding, but not feeling the experiences the slaves went through. Overall, these two books were the most interesting and captivating that I have read for this class and I feel as though I could talk on and on about them.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

This story was one of the saddest stories I have ever experienced. Through the bonds of slavery, an innocent woman lived in fear for nearly half of her life. The cruelty of the slave owners baffles me. As the story of Linda is told the reader sees that the experiences of being a female slave are almost worse than that of a male slave. The females were not required to do manual labor in the fields, but they were forced to endure the perversity of their masters and the immorality of the society they live in. One thing Jacob’s spends a lot of time discussing is religion. Through religion she points out the immorality and contradictory actions made by the slave owners. Mrs. Flint’s actions stand out the most, especially when she tells Sally that she is grateful that Benny was bitten by a dog and that she cannot wait for the same to happen to his mother so she can receive the punishment she rightly deserves.

I am astonished at the savage treatment of female slaves. Almost every story is about the difficulty of working in the fields and being a black man; yet the women were almost treated worse. Although this treatment wasn’t usually physical, it was emotional, something that impacts the lives of women even greater. The perseverance shown by this brave woman is astounding. To be able to push through sexual tension and to be ripped from those you love is no easy feat and is unbelievable that women were able to withstand this and continue to go on every day never hesitating to move forward. The religious references serve as a wake-up call to the reader and just gives the reader one more example of the bias towards slaves. The fact that a man can call himself a Christian yet treat human beings with such cruelty is a sin in itself.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

This novel is the story of Frederick Douglass, and hes journey to becoming a freedman. Through the epic tales of his life a reader can see the utmost cruelty which was bestowed upon the slaves. This very honest and sad truth presents the story of American slavery. The story gives a detailed description of Douglass’ life in every home he served in. I am utterly amazed at the severe way he and so many other slaves were treated. What stood out the most to  me in this book is the dedication and commitment Douglass showed to being freed. One particular quote stood out to me, “the more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my en-slavers….in moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast.” This struck me as very interesting because this man who hates the institution which rules his life regrets being above the rest and having deeper knowledge. This deeper knowledge is the same thing that drove him to break free and leave his slave drivers.

 This biggest thing that I noticed, is the difference of city slaves and plantation slaves. It amazes me how different the two are and yet how similar they are. The plantation slaves are treated like animals, or even worse. On the other side the city slaves are given great freedom to find a job and help provide for themselves. This is almost worse, though, because then the slaves are seeing the freedom that is denied to them and only long for it even more. I believe this is what  Douglass meant by wishing he were stupid like his fellow-slaves. Overall this reading only brought me greater sympathy for the enslaved and hate for those doing the enslaving.