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 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 the natural world. For Jacobs, rivers and all bodies of water have both practical and symbolic functions. The river forms a physical barrier between places; it divides states ***** physical locations. ***** divide cites like Philadelphia and *****y 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 barrier between slavery and freedom. The oppressive plantations of ***** south are separated from the Free States in the north by these flow*****g bodies of water. In Harriet Jacobs' ***** in the Life of a Slave Girl, rivers extend into larger bodies ***** water ***** the Chesapeake Bay, which provide access to the various modes of transportation available at the time like rowboats and larger transport vessels. For ***** slave, ***** Jacobs in particular, the river implies a literal journey from one place to the next, and th***** physical ***** parallels ********** journey from *****ry to freedom. ***** river also symbolizes the lifetime journey ***** birth and death. The river is described frequently in ***** text as a place ***** *****. The rag*****g 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 *****' narrative; it is the place of freedom. As such, the river can ***** safe passage ***** the south to ***** ***** states in the north. As Jacobs notes on page 237, the river ***** "safe method for escape." Because the river offers a s*****fe ***** ***** *****, it also functions as a symbol of spiritual liberation throughout Incidents ***** the Life of a Sl*****ve Girl.

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

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