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

Water symbolism, and especially that of the river, is integral to Harriet ***** Incidents in the Life ***** a Slave *****. Rivers, with *****ir 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 ***** they provide natural borders between cities and states. Rivers also help delineate the North and the South, which in ********** time was eminently significant. Therefore, ***** ***** is a metaphorical ***** between slavery and freedom. The oppressive plantations of the south are separated from the Free States in the north by these flow*****g bodies of water. In Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a ***** Girl, rivers extend into larger ***** of water like ***** Chesapeake Bay, ***** ***** access to the various modes of transportation available at the time like rowboats and larger transport vessels. For the slave, ***** Jacobs in particular, the river implies a liter*****l journey from one place to the next, and th***** physical journey parallels the journey from slavery 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 ***** James or the wo***** ***** in Chapter XXII, killing *****ir pain. However, more than anything, the ***** is a me*****ns to escape in Jacobs' narrative; it is the place of freedom. As such, the river can provide safe passage ***** the south ***** ***** ***** states in the north. As Jacobs notes on page 237, the river ***** "safe method for escape." Because the ***** offers a s*****fe passage to *****, it also ***** as a symbol of spiritual liberation throughout ***** in the Life of a Slave Girl.

***** Jacobs, writing under the pseudonym Linda Brent, illustrates her twenty-seven years spent as a slave and ***** numerous ********** along the way. Her friends and family members frequently had to take r*****ks in order to escape their tyrannical m*****ters. ***** 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, ***** describes her gr*****dmother as "sinking ***** her burdens," (228). The imagery of "sinking" parallels the other instances ***** river and ***** ********** in the *****. ***** horrors of slavery ***** like weights dragging ***** soul down ***** the depths of water. **********, water is a means to die. The narrator describes two key incidents in which slaves willingly used the river to commit suicide, to ***** ***** their *****. The first occurs on page 36, in Chapter IV.

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