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

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

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


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