Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl By Harriet A. Jacobs Summary and Analysis Chapter 2

Summary

Dr. Flint, a neighborhood physician, had married the sister of Linda Brent's mistress, and Linda is now the property of their young daughter. The family also purchased her brother, William. The chapter opens with an incident concerning William, who is severely reprimanded by his father for answering to his mistress instead of his father after being summoned by both of them. Linda then recounts her friend's funeral, her father's sudden, unexpected death, and the sale of her grandmother.

Her grandmother's mistress had always promised that, upon her death, the grandmother would be granted her freedom. But when the mistress dies, Dr. Flint reneges on this promise and puts Linda's grandmother up for sale. However, the sister of the deceased mistress purchases her, and, finally, her grandmother is granted her freedom.

This chapter details vivid accounts of the Flint's cruelty and brutality — as well as that of neighboring slaveholders — toward their slaves.

Analysis

One of the most significant incidents in this chapter is the opening scene in which William learns "his first lesson of obedience to a master." Given Linda's description of her father's independent nature, his sudden, unexplained death may not have been an accident. This chapter offers a glimpse of Linda's naiveté concerning the brutality and violence often inflicted upon slaves when she remarks that she found it difficult to believe that her father was dead, because she hadn't even known that he was sick. The fact that she learns about her father's death at her friend's funeral compounds her loss, and she finds little comfort in her grandmother's consoling words.

Another key incident concerns the story of the silver candelabra purchased with the money Linda's grandmother had lent her mistress. Linda's remark that the candelabra will probably be handed down from generation to generation underscores the fact that Linda's family has been denied a family legacy. This issue is compounded when Dr. Flint not only refuses to repay Linda's grandmother, but he sells her instead of the candelabra for a mere $50.

The rest of the chapter illustrates the cruelties of Dr. and Mrs. Flint who, as their name implies, are cold, hard-hearted people. The closing scenes highlight the plight of female slaves who are forced to satisfy the lust of their lascivious masters. The author focuses on the story of a male slave who is nearly beaten to death for quarrelling with his wife because the master is the father of her children and the account of a slave girl who dies in childbirth soon after her baby dies.

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After Linda escapes from Mr. Flint's plantation, her relatives advise her to do what?




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