Close Reading Essay 1

Submitted By tatianalee53
Words: 812
Pages: 4

The constant sale and trade of slaves threatened to break apart slave marriages and families, so slaves viewed their families in terms of kinships. Kinships formed the social basis for African American communities. Slaves adapted to their circumstances by creating family units with other slaves they lived and worked with. Slave children were taught to refer to adults with kin titles for example, sister, brother, aunt, and uncle. This prepared the children incase their parents and blood relatives died, or were sold to different plantations. As a result, parents relied on such kinships to help raise their children. Slavery was set up to break family bonds, but Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl shows us that the most important aspect of freedom is remaining attached to, or bonded to, one’s family.
Before turning to African American kinship ties, it’s important to note that slavery has a negative impact on those that are enslaved, and their white enslavers. There is an adverse culture in the enslavers’ household that turns the adults and children cruel and money hungry. For example, Mrs. Flint who has no regard for the woman that practically raised her--Aunt Martha. Mrs. Flint also becomes preoccupied with vengeance for Linda, due to her husband’s sexual desires. “The young wife soon learns that the husband she has placed her happiness pays no regard to his marriage vows. Children of every shade of complexion play with her own fair babies, and too well she knows that they are born unto him and his own household” (Jacobs 39). Here Jacobs is showing Mrs. Flint’s callousness as something other than basic human indecency. The masters’ affairs cause their home to deteriorate, but that doesn’t stop them from acting on their sexual desires. As a result, their wives are unhappy and full of spite for the slave woman who bears mixed children. Slavery has a way of reaching everyone in every family and it is hard to say who has the worst experience.
Turning now to the experiences of African American families, Jacobs shows us that the family is seen as a source of strength. Aunt Martha has a strong desire to keep her family together. She is the protector, as long as her grandchildren remain close to her, they will be safe. If her grandchildren choose to runaway, she can no longer protect them. Aunt Martha is saddened by her grandchildren’s attempts to runaway, so she is devastated when William does not return from the North with Mr. Sands. “O Aggie […] it seems as if I shouldn’t have any of my children or grandchildren left to hand me a drink when I’m dying, and lay my old body in the ground”(Jacobs 150). As the matriarch in this family, Aunt Martha’s body lying in the ground symbolizes the destruction of her family. Aunt Martha will be unable to hold the family together and protect them from the grave.
Increasingly through the book, Linda’s journey to freedom is about keeping her family together. Her family is an emotional, and physical anchor that…