Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by

Harriet Jacobs

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Despite Dr. Flint’s aggressive activism against him, Mr. Sands is elected to Congress that summer. This makes Linda nervous—he still hasn’t freed the children, and if he dies, they will belong to his heirs.
Mr. Sands’s foot-dragging with regard to his offspring’s freedom shows that he doesn’t really love them as children, but considers them property.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
The night before he leaves, Linda descends stiffly into the shed. Mr. Sands stops at the house briefly to see the children and, taking a risk, Linda calls out from the shed. Appearing to ignore her, he walks into the street, and Linda worries that his children have become “of little consequence” to him. However, he was just trying to avoid suspicion by stopping too suddenly and soon returns; he’s astonished to find that she’s hiding so close to home.
Here, Linda’s feelings of mistrust are somewhat overturned, as Mr. Sands displays concern for her well-being. However, for much of the narrative his intentions towards her and the children are hard to interpret, and Linda is prevented from trusting him by her knowledge of the complete power he has over her family.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Linda tells Mr. Sands that she’s not asking for any help for herself, but she wants him to free the children. He promises to do so and hurries away. Linda is so weak from inactivity that Grandmother has to help her back into the garret. The family is starting to worry that she will be permanently crippled, and Linda feels that if not for her children, she would be happy to die.
Linda’s businesslike interaction with Mr. Sands right now shows that her relationship with him was never about pleasure or fulfillment, but merely a means of protecting herself and her children. In this way, she presents herself as a respectable mother, rather than a woman engaging in an extramarital affair.
Themes
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon