Harriet Jacobs was a writer born a slave in North Carolina. Jacobs was sold to a white master, who tried to force her to become his mistress. She resisted. Jacobs escaped from her owner and went to the North, to Rochester, where she became friends with Amy Post, a feminist and abolitionist, who persuaded her to write a story about her life. Thus she wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, which was published under the pseudonym Linda Brent. The book openly described and demned sexual exploitation of black slaves. Jacobs’ book marked the beginning of a special genre – stories about the life of black slaves.
One element of slave narratives was a description of an owner, a Christian, with the statement that such an owner was far worse than someone who openly doesn’t talk about the religion.
Harriet Jacobs in her work showed the whole gallery of such owners, who were declaring themselves as true Christians, but were breaking all the commandments of the divine and human. One of such followers of Christianity forbade his servants to steal from him, but if they were able to steal something from the neighbors and get unnoticed, it was not considered a crime.
Slave owners could watch how slaves were subjected to the most brutal corporal punishment. The most common sin among owners-men was cohabiting with slaves, who gave birth to their illegitimate children. At the same time this situation was considered the norm, the white fathers were not ashamed of this, but just did not want anyone to see their children in slaves.
The main character Linda Brent is well aware of such “Christians”. Her own owner, Dr. Flint, was the father of at least 11 children from slaves and tried to seduce her too. When she learned that the owner has become a member of the Episcopal Church, she was delighted, hoping that faith would cleanse his soul from the contamination, but the situation has only worsened. Dr. Flint not only mocked the covenant about Adultery and argued that by sleeping with him she would not lose her virtue, but also blasphemed. Jacobs calls such “Christians” human beings with a soul of Satan.
In an effort to remain objective, Linda admits that there were true believers, who preserved piety in thoughts and deeds, but there were few of them. For others other religion was like a garment that was worn only on Sundays and not remembered the rest of the days.
Slave owners needed religion to justify their actions and confirm the right to have slaves. Slaveholders’ religion helped curb human nature and direct people on the right path that is why the owners decided to convert slaves to Christianity.
Harriet Jacobs was a writer born a slave in North Carolina. Jacobs was sold to a white master, who tried to force her to become his mistress. She resisted. Jacobs escaped from her owner and went to the North, to Rochester, where she became friends with Amy Post, a feminist and abolitionist, who persuaded her to write a story about her life.