Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Bond between Harriet and Her Relatives, Obedience and Familial Loyalty

  1. Harriet points to some of the tensions that exist for slaves as they are forced to choose between their family needs and those of their masters.
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Family and community are extremely important in Incidents. Slavery is a dehumanizing, depraved system that seeks to reduce its participants to nameless, faceless brutes. Despite the propensity of some slaves to fall prey to rage, depression, or stupor, many were able to survive due to the support of their family and others in the black community. Family and friends and neighbors provided love, compassion, material aid, and assistance in escaping or hiding; they were able to instill in each other a sense of belonging and meaning. Even though they may have been denied the traditional elements of society - a real, binding marriage and children from husband and wife - and experienced separation from each other at the whim of a slaveholder, the ties they made with other slaves kept them from falling prey to irredeemable despair. Harriet would not have been able to maintain her sanity in the face of Dr. Flint's persecution without the love and protection of her grandmother, and her escape would have been impossible without her uncle and friends. The black community nurtures and succors its members in the face of unfathomable pain and suffering.