Essay On Slave Narratives
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Slave narratives are text that are written to explain the experiences of the life of slaves in the era when slavery was legal to when it is illegal. They help explain what happened and the difference in opportunities that other non-slave people had. There were many slave narratives written to explain the life experiences of slaves by different authors. The aim of this paper is to compare and contrast the different life experiences in the two narrative by Douglass and Jacobs. The two narratives enlighten the life of different slaves and the hardships that they had to endure during the era when slavery was legal.
In the first narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, the setting was at a time when it would be wrong to have dark skinned color, and there were many slaves in the United States of America. However, it was still in this era when the life of Douglass is portrayed as difficult yet he ended up having a successful life (Baym, 13). He escapes from his masters and a chance of living a free life with great opportunities which he could not attain while in slavery becomes reality (Baym, 16).
Douglass can read and write which is a big achievement since it was illegal for black people to do so during this dark era. The narrative of Douglass continues to explain more achievements portrayed when he joined a New York magazine and was a spokesman in the abolition of slavery (Baym, 26). The greatest achievement is portrayed when he had to change his name in order not to get back to slavery and gain enough support to enable the black population to have same voting rights as the rest of the people (Baym, 28).
The second narrative explains the life of a black woman who had a good life as a young child and hardships begun when her mother died. Linda is the pseudonym for Harriet Jacobs (Baym, 144). She is a woman who underwent one of the toughest life experiences a slave. Linda is given to the mother's mistress, and her life is still good since the mistress was kind and even taught Linda how to read and write (Baym, 149). The narrative later introduces the hardships of Jacobs when the mistress dies, and she is given to the Flints family. There she undergoes cruelty.
The family abuses her and deprived her of her happiness (Baym, 176). She gets into a relationship with Dr. Flint's neighbor to avoid being sexually harassed by Dr. Flint. The narrative shows her greatest hardship occurred when she had to hide to avoid being sold and for the expense that her children that she bore with Mr. Sands, the neighbor, will have a good life (Baym, 183). She manages to escape and hide although she had to stay hidden until the day when Dr. Flint was tired of searching for her. After a few years, she meets her children in Northern America after she escapes slavery.
Her children grow, and she works as a housemaid in a different family who were kind to them (Baym 188). Life begins to become hard when the new master dies and moves to England to take care of her daughter where she was not subjected to the hardships of being a black person (Baym, 221). She is subjected to slavery when she returns by the Flint children who claimed her ownership after Dr, Flint dies which was legal during this era (Baym, 132).
The two narratives explain different life experiences by Jacobs and Douglass although they both portrayed the hardships of slavery. The abolition of slavery was one of the best decisions that gave everyone equal rights and opportunities of living a free life and stands as one of the greatest achievements.
Baym, Nina, and Robert S. Levine. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. , 2013. Print.