Essay - A River Runs Through Her: River Imagery and Symbolism in...


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A River Runs Through Her: ***** Imagery and Symbolism in Harriet Jacobs' Incidents ***** the Life of a Sl*****ve Girl"

Water symbolism, ***** especially that of the river, is integral to Harriet ***** Incidents in the Life ***** a Slave *****. Rivers, with *****ir winding waters, are not just part of the geographic landscape or ***** natural world. For Jacobs, *****s and all bodies of water have both practical ***** symbolic functions. The river forms a physic*****l barrier between places; it divides states and physical locations. Rivers divide cites like Philadelphia and they provide natural borders between cities ***** states. Rivers also help delineate the North and the South, which in ********** time was eminently significant. Therefore, ***** ***** is a metaphorical barrier between slavery and freedom. The oppressive plantations of the south are separated from the Free States in the north by these flow*****g ***** of water. In Harriet Jacobs' ***** in the Life of a Slave Girl, rivers extend into larger bodies ***** water like ***** Chesapeake Bay, ***** provide access to the various modes of transportation available at the time like rowboats and larger transport vessels. For ***** slave, ***** Jacobs in **********, the river implies a liter*****l journey ***** one place ***** the next, and th***** physical ***** parallels the journey from *****ry to freedom. The river also symbolizes ***** lifetime journey ***** birth and death. ***** river is described frequently in the text as a pl*****ce of death. The raging waters can drown a man like James or the woman ***** in Chapter XXII, killing *****ir pain. However, more than anything, the river is a means ***** escape in Jacobs' narrative; it is the place of freedom. As such, the river can provide safe passage ***** the south to ***** Free states in the *****. As Jacobs *****es on page 237, the river ***** "safe method for escape." Because the river offers a ***** ***** ***** *****, it *****lso functions as a symbol of spiritual liberation throughout Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

***** *****, writing under the pseudonym Linda Brent, illustrates her twenty-seven years spent ***** a slave and ***** numerous *****s along the way. Her friends and family members frequently had to take risks in order to escape *****ir tyrannical masters. ***** of the geography ***** the states Jacobs lived in dur*****g ***** course of her life, *****s serve an integral purpose to the narrative. Moreover, water is an overarching motif in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. ***** example, Jacobs describes her gr*****dmo*****r as "sinking ***** her burdens," (228). The imagery of "sinking" parallels the other instances ***** river and water ********** in the *****. The horrors of slavery are like weights dragging the soul down into ***** depths ***** water. Here, water is a means to die. ***** narrator describes two key incidents in which slaves willingly used the river to commit suicide, to willingly drown ********** *****. The first occurs on page 36, in ***** IV.

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