Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The Garret

The space of the garret, in which Jacobs’ confined herself for seven years, has been taken up as a metaphor in black critical thought, most notably by theorist Katherine McKittrick. In her text Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle, McKittrick argues that the garret “highlights how geography is transformed by Jacobs into a usable and paradoxical space.”[19] When she initially enters her “loophole of retreat,” Jacobs states that “[its] continued darkness was oppressive…without one gleam of light…[and] with no object for my eye to rest upon." However, once she bores holes through the space with a gimlet, Jacobs creates for herself an oppositional perspective on the workings of the plantation—she comes to inhabit what McKittrick terms a "disembodied master-eye, seeing from nowhere.”[20] The garret offers Jacobs an alternate way of seeing, allowing her to reimagine freedom while shielding her from the hypervisibility to which black people—especially black women—are always already subject.

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