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

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

H*****rriet Jacobs, writing 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 ********** tyrannical masters. Because of the geography of the states ***** lived in dur*****g the course of her life, rivers serve an ***** purpose to the narrative. Moreover, water is an overarching motif in Incidents in the Life ***** a Slave *****. ***** example, Jacobs describes her gr*****dmot***** as "sinking ***** her burdens," (228). ***** imagery of "sinking" parallels the other instances of river and ***** ***** in the *****. The horrors ***** *****ry are like weights dragging the soul down in***** the depths of water. Here, water is a means to die. ***** narrator describes two key incidents in which slaves willingly used the river to commit suicide, to ***** drown *****ir burdens. The first occurs on page 36, in Chapter IV.

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