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

Harriet Jacobs, writing under the pseudonym Linda Brent, illustrates her twenty-seven years spent ***** a slave and her numerous ********** 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 Jacobs lived in dur*****g the course of her life, ***** serve an integral purpose to ***** narrative. Moreover, water is an overarching motif in Incidents in the Life ***** a Slave Girl. ***** example, ***** describes her gr*****dmo*****r as "sinking under ***** burdens," (228). ***** imagery of "sinking" parallels the other instances of ***** and ***** ********** in the text. 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 ***** river to commit suicide, to willingly drown their burdens. The first occurs on page 36, in Chapter IV.

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