Suraj Varma

Book Review: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Harriet Ann Jacobs

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Image: Wiki Commons

If there’s one thing Suraj Varma learnt from his bed-side book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, it’s that as a repressed minority you need to speak out and act.

 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Harriet Ann Jacobs

 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an autobiographical account by Harriet Ann Jacobs (written under the pen name of “Linda Brent”) of the horrifying acts of abuse the African-American community suffered as slaves during the pre-Civil war period in the southern states of the United States.

Published in 1861, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl  is a riveting story and a living testament to the tension that exists between the African-American and Anglo-Saxon communities in parts of the United States even still to this date (Ed’s note – how true – case in point the riots over the last week or so in Ferguson Missouri…)

For a person like myself who didn’t study American history and who prior to reading Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl had little insight into the history of slavery, it certainly opened a door for more research into the complex nature of the human psyche. On many occasion Jacobs attributes her escape from the evils of slavery to the kind people who constituted but a small minority of the slave-holders or overseers. Her account of the myriad trying episodes of her slave life was a constant reminder to me of the times when one is totally helpless because the system and law that governs are at fault.

One may think of such times as occasions when the odds are against you and the power is vested in the hands of wrong people. Slavery of such kind is prevalent even today – at workplaces and even more generally in society when you are a minority. Any person who has an undue advantage over the other may be tempted to exercise acts unthinkable and unwarranted.

In modern society what one may go through might be trifling compared to the trauma the author suffered as described in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. But if there is one important take away from this read, it is not to suffer in silence.

Fortunately, there are avenues to speak up and more channels than ever to reach out in this century; but you still need to act.

Suraj Varma

I’m a freelance copywriter who loves to write on topics that grab my attention in the world around me. From working as a research engineer, living in extremely busy cities and having friends who tolerate my eccentricities, my interests are varied and my thoughts evoke me to write. Always intrigued by life and its quirks, questioning conservative theories, I think aloud to provoke curiosity!

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