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Lifting As We Climb Essay

3072 words - 13 pages

Lifting as We Climb

Harriet Jacobs, Frances E. W. Harper, and Anna Julia Cooper are three African American female writers who have greatly impacted the progress of "black womanhood." Through their works, they have successfully dispelled the myths created about black women. These myths include two major ideas, the first being that all African American women are perceived as more promiscuous than the average white woman. The second myth is that black women are virtually useless, containing only the capabilities of working in white homes and raising white children. These myths caused these women to be degraded in the eyes of others as well as themselves. In Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a ...view middle of the document...

This school supplied education by African American teachers. After the war, they sailed to England and successfully raised money for a home for Savannah's black orphans and aged individuals. Upon moving to Washington, DC, she continued to work among the destitute freed people while her daughter worked in the newly established "colored schools." In 1896, she was involved in organizing the National Association of Colored Women.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a true account of Jacobs' life. In her preface, she assures us that it is not a fictional narrative and all the events, however incredible, are strictly true. The narrative begins with her background information, it is then that we learned that her mother passed away, leaving her behind when she was still very young. Six years later her kind mistress sickens and dies as well. After this sad occurrence, Linda is sent to work at the home of Dr. Flint, her late mistress' relative. This transition is the gateway to the hell of her enslavement. Dr. Flint harasses her for years; he wants more than just a master/slave relationship, he wants a sexual one as well. His wife is aware of his feelings towards Linda and treats her cruelly because of that. Her jealous attitude is conveyed throughout the story. Linda becomes involved with another man, Mr. Sands, to escape from Dr. Flint. Mr. Sands is a wealthy, prominent figure in her community, who is also attracted to her. He expresses his feelings towards her in many ways. When they first met, he promises to free her from the ball and chains of slavery. Linda has two children, Benjamin and Ellen, with Mr. Sands. This greatly angers Dr. Flint causing him to send her away to work on a plantation. Eventually, Linda hides out in a tiny crawl space in her grandmother's home for seven years when she is finally given the chance to escape. After twenty-seven miserable years, she ends up in the north with her children.

Jacobs defines true black womanhood through images portrayed in her narrative. She makes many references to God and Christianity, one example occurs when Mr. Sands leaves her son Benjamin up North. When Linda hears of this news, she immediately rejoices, "I knelt down and thanked [God] from my heart, that one of my family was saved from the grasp of slavery" (Jacobs 455). In another instance, when she reaches the north, she finds a woman to work for who was quite kind and generous, and again she gives all thanks to the Lord: "the heavenly Father had been most merciful to me in leading me to this place" (Jacobs 485). In both scenarios, she puts aside all thoughts and immediately gives thanks. The importance of Christianity in her life and her strong faith are shown throughout the entire narrative, and is tied to the definition of black womanhood.

Another manner in which Jacobs portrays the image of true black womanhood is through her pure and moral attitude. Her grandmother was her conscience, the only role model she has in her...

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