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 in the Life of a Sl*****ve Girl"

Water symbolism, ***** especially that of the river, is integral to Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life ***** 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 ***** 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 Jacobs' time was eminently significant. Therefore, ***** river is a metaphorical ***** between slavery and freedom. The oppressive plantations of the south are separated from ***** Free States in the north by these flow*****g bodies of water. In ***** ***** Incidents in the Life of a ***** Girl, rivers extend into larger bodies of ***** like the Chesapeake Bay, ***** provide access to ***** various modes of transportation available at the time like rowboats and larger transport vessels. For the slave, ***** Jacobs in **********, the river implies a literal journey ***** one place ***** the next, and this physical ***** parallels the journey from slavery to freedom. The ***** also symbolizes the lifetime journey between birth and death. ***** river is described frequently in the text as a place of *****. The rag*****g waters can drown a man ***** James or the woman ***** in Chapter XXII, killing ***** pain. However, more than anything, the ***** is a means to escape in Jacobs' narrative; it is the place of freedom. As such, the river can ***** safe passage from the south ***** the Free states in the north. As Jacobs notes on page 237, the river was "safe method for escape." Because the river offers a ***** p*****ssage to *****, it ***** ***** as a symbol of spiritual liberation throughout Incidents in the Life of a Sl*****ve Girl.

Harriet Jacobs, writ*****g under the pseudonym Linda Brent, illustrates her twenty-seven years spent ***** a slave and ***** 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 of the states Jacobs lived ***** during the course of her life, ***** serve an integral purpose ***** ***** narrative. Moreover, water is an overarching motif in Incidents in the ***** ***** a Slave *****. For example, ***** describes her grandmo*****r as "sinking under her burdens," (228). The imagery of "sinking" parallels the other instances ***** river and water ***** in the text. The horrors of slavery ***** like weights dragging ***** soul down into 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, ***** ***** ***** their burdens. The first occurs on page 36, in ***** IV.

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