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 *****tegral to Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the ***** of a Slave *****. **********, with *****ir winding waters, are not just part ***** the geographic landscape or ***** natural world. For Jacobs, rivers and all bodies of water have both practical ***** 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 and 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 flow*****g ***** of water. In ***** ***** ***** in the Life of a Slave Girl, rivers extend into larger bodies of water ***** ***** Chesapeake Bay, which ***** access to the various modes of transportation available at the time like rowboats and larger transport vessels. For ***** slave, and Jacobs in **********, the river implies a literal journey from one place to the next, and th***** physical ***** parallels the journey from *****ry to freedom. The ***** also symbolizes ***** lifetime journey ***** birth and death. ***** river is described frequently in the text as a place of *****. The raging ***** can drown a man like James or the woman ***** in Chapter XXII, killing their pain. However, more than anything, the ***** is a me*****ns to escape in *****' narrative; it is the place of freedom. As such, the river can provide safe passage from the south to ***** Free states in the *****. As Jacobs *****es on page 237, the ***** was "safe method for escape." Because the river offers a safe passage to *****, it ***** ***** as a symbol of spiritual liberati***** throughout Incidents in the Life of a ***** Girl.

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

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