Incidents in The Life of a Slave Girl Short Summary
This book begins with the author, Harriet Jacobs stating her reasons for authoring her autobiography using Linda Brent as a pseudonym. She believes that by going public, she will assist the antislavery movement.
An Overview of the Story
Linda was born in a happy home to comparatively well-off slave parents. After her mother’s death, while she was six years old, she started living with her mother’s mistress. This mistress taught her how to read. A few years later, the mistress dies and leaves Linda under the care of a relative.
She undergoes cruel treatment at her new home and the master, Dr. Flint, begins to harass her sexually. The harassment continues for many years until Linda decides to escape him by starting an affair with Mr. Sands, a white neighbor. She convinces herself that in case flint discovers the affair, he would sell her in disgust to Sands. However, when Flint discovers it, he sends Linda to work in his plantation.
Linda has two children named Ellen and Benny. She fears that her children might also receive a treatment similar to hers. She hatches a plan to hide in an attic to trick Dr. Flint that she has escaped, hoping that Flint would sell her children fearing that they would also escape. Just as she hoped, Flint sells her children to Mr. Sands. However, Linda soon realizes that Sands might sell her children to slave traders. She hatches a plan to flee with them northwards.
Seven years later, Linda eventually succeeded in escaping to the north. There she meets Ellen, who had been taken to the north after Mr. Sands joined Congress. However, Benny remained in the south. Ellen is working for Mrs. Hobbs, a cousin of Mr. Sands. However, Flint is still after Linda, so she escapes to Boston to care for the late Mrs. Bruce’s children. A few years later, she travels to England and works at Mr. Bruce’s as a babysitter. Upon Linda’s return to Boston, Benny moves to California to stay with Linda’s brother, and Ellen joins a boarding school.
Dr. Flint dies shortly after, and his daughter Emily is now claiming ownership of Linda. The fugitive slave act has also been passed, and Linda is in danger of being recaptured. However, before Emily and her husband Mr. Dodge capture Linda, Bruce’s new wife buys her against her will and employs her. Though Linda is grateful to Mrs. Bruce, she has not realized her dream for freedom. The book closes with two testimonials, one from George W. Lowther and the other from Amy Post.