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 ***** the Life of a Slave Girl"

Water symbolism, ***** especially that of the river, is integral to Harriet ***** 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 and physical locations. ***** divide cites like Philadelphia ***** *****y provide natural borders between cities and states. Rivers also help delineate the North and the South, which in Jacobs' time was eminently significant. Therefore, the river is a metaphorical barrier between slavery and freedom. The oppressive plantations of the south are separated from the Free States in the north by these flowing bodies of *****. In ***** ***** Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, rivers extend into larger ***** ***** water like ***** 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 literal journey ***** one place to the next, and th***** physical journey parallels *****e ***** from *****ry to freedom. ***** ***** also symbolizes the lifetime journey ***** birth and death. The river is described frequently in ***** text as a pl*****ce of *****. The rag*****g waters can drown a man like James or the wo***** described in Chapter XXII, killing their pain. However, more than anything, the ***** is a means ***** escape in Jacobs' narrative; it is the place ***** freedom. As such, the river can provide safe passage ***** the south to the ***** ***** ***** the north. As Jacobs *****es on page 237, the ***** was "safe method for escape." Because the river offers a ***** ***** to freedom, it ********** ***** as a symbol of spiritual liberation throughout Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Harriet 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 risks in order to escape their tyrannical masters. ***** of the geography ***** the states ***** lived in dur*****g the course of her life, ***** serve an integral purpose ***** the narrative. Moreover, water is an overarching motif in Incidents in the Life of a Slave *****. For example, Jacobs describes her gr*****mo*****r as "sinking ***** her burdens," (228). The imagery of "sinking" parallels the other inst*****ces ***** ***** and ***** ***** in the text. ***** horrors of slavery ***** like weights dragging the soul down ***** ***** 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, to willingly drown ***** burdens. The first occurs on page 36, in Chapter IV.

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