Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl By Harriet A. Jacobs Summary and Analysis Chapters 12-13

Summary

Linda describes the aftermath of the Nat Turner rebellion and denounces the moral conflict between the doctrine of the Christian church, which teaches love and brotherhood, and the brutal and amoral behavior of men and women who profess to be Christians.

Analysis

In these two chapters, Linda again digresses from her personal narrative to address broader issues affecting the black community. In Chapter 12, she describes the aftermath of the Nat Turner insurrection. Lawless whites, with the permission of southern slaveholders, ransack slave cabins and terrorize black men, women, and children whom they perceive as potential rebels.

In Chapter 13, she exposes the hypocrisy of the Christian church. Religion and spirituality have always been important themes in black literature, much of which is rooted in sermons and spirituals. The Church's hypocrisy is exemplified by the Rev. Mr. Pike whose favorite text is "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ" (Ephesians 6:5).

In contrast to Rev. Pike are the new minister and his wife, who establish a special sermon for blacks, teach their slaves to read and write, and eventually set them free. Linda cites her own experience of teaching an elderly black man to read the Bible, thus she illustrates the critical link between freedom and literacy and exposes the hypocrisy of Christian missionaries who travel abroad to spread the gospel to "heathens," but conduct themselves as "heathens" in their own country by enslaving and brutalizing their black brothers and sisters. To further emphasize the differences between the perception and reality of slavery, she describes the tactics slaveholders use to convince those sympathetic to enslaved blacks that slavery is basically a benign "patriarchal institution."

Linda also describes the differences between Christianity and religion, and between the white church and the black church. Emphasizing the inherent spirituality of blacks, whose beliefs are rooted in African tribal religions, she highlights the hypocrisy of whites who discount these religions and attempt to convert blacks to a religion that teaches them that they are inferior beings.

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




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