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 Slave Girl"

Water symbolism, and especially that of the river, is ********** to Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave *****. Rivers, with their winding waters, are not just part ***** 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 ***** they provide natural borders between cities and states. Rivers also help delineate the North and the South, which in ********** time was eminently significant. Therefore, the ***** is a metaphorical ***** between slavery and freedom. The oppressive plantations of ***** south are separated from the Free States in the north by these flowing ***** of *****. In Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, rivers extend into larger bodies ***** water ***** the Chesapeake Bay, which ***** access to the various modes of transportation available at the time like rowboats and larger transport vessels. For ***** slave, ***** Jacobs in *****icular, the river implies a liter*****l journey ***** one place ***** the next, and this physical ***** parallels the journey from slavery to freedom. ***** river also symbolizes the lifetime journey ***** birth and death. The river is described frequently in the text as a pl*****ce ***** death. The rag*****g ********** can drown a man ***** James or the woman ***** in Chapter XXII, killing their 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 from the south to the Free ***** in the *****. As Jacobs notes on page 237, the river ***** "safe method for escape." Because the river offers a ***** ***** to freedom, it ********** ***** as a symbol of spiritual liberation throughout ***** ***** the Life of a ***** Girl.

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


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