Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by

Harriet Jacobs

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Linda’s son and first child with Mr. Sands. Benny’s birth gives Linda, exhausted and overwhelmed by years of Dr. Flint’s harassment, a reason to live and a new sense of determination to escape slavery. He grows up to be a stalwart and intelligent boy; for example, although Linda doesn’t tell her children she’s hiding in the crawlspace, he deduces it for himself and keeps watch over the yard so that no one gets too near her refuge. Benny is purchased and freed by Mr. Sands and travels to New York to be reunited with his mother. He apprentices with a shipbuilder, but when his colleagues learn he’s mixed-race, he loses his job and joins a whaling expedition instead.

Benny Quotes in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl quotes below are all either spoken by Benny or refer to Benny. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl published in 2001.
Chapter 29 Quotes

We knelt down together, with my child pressed to my heart, and my other arm round the faithful, loving old friend I was about to leave forever. On no other occasion has it ever been my lot to listen to so fervent a supplication for mercy and protection. It thrilled through my heart, and inspired me with trust in God.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Grandmother, Benny
Related Symbols: Houses and Homes
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

Reader, my story ends with freedom; not in the usual way, with marriage….The dream of my life is not yet realized. I do not sit with my children in a home of my own.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Ellen, Benny
Related Symbols: Houses and Homes
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl LitChart as a printable PDF.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl PDF

Benny Character Timeline in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The timeline below shows where the character Benny appears in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Eleven: The New Tie to Life
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Linda’s baby boy, Benny, grows older and stronger. Whenever she’s “most sorely oppressed” she takes comfort in watching him... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen: Another Link to Life
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
The children are christened Benjamin (Benny) and Ellen; Linda gives them the surname of her father, who derived it from his... (full context)
Chapter Fifteen: Continued Persecutions
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
When Linda responds sharply, Benny runs up and throws his arms around his mother, as if to protect her. Dr.... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...Flint that she is willing to go to the plantation. Enraged, he tells her that Benny will be sent to the fields and Ellen will be sold as soon as possible. (full context)
Chapter Sixteen: Scenes at the Plantation
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Linda leaves the next morning, accompanied by Ellen but leaving Benny, who is sick, with Grandmother. At the plantation, she has to leave Ellen with the... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...the whole family gathers, crying to see her. She looks over her sleeping children and Benny wakes up, telling her he’s happy that they haven’t “cut off your head at the... (full context)
Chapter Seventeen: The Flight
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Before leaving the house to hide with a friend, she looks over Benny and Ellen, who are sleeping. They are truly defenseless, with a mother who can’t protect... (full context)
Chapter Eighteen: Months of Peril
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...soon, but he seems to want revenge more than money. He throws William, Aunt Nancy, Benny, and Ellen into the city jail and tells Grandmother that she will never see them... (full context)
Chapter Nineteen: The Children Sold
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...trader has left town, but he actually stops a few miles away and releases William, Benny, and Ellen to Uncle Phillip. He seems to think that the deception is a good... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...like “the moaning of children.” For a minute, she thinks she sees the shadows of Benny and Ellen on the floor, and she becomes convinced that something bad has happened. The... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-One: The Loophole of Retreat
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...Flint goes to New York again, believing he’s discovered some new clue. When he returns, Benny (who doesn’t know where Linda is) sees him in the street and tells him he... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...her and speculating that she’s in the free states. Dr. Flint often tries to bribe Benny and Ellen into divulging their mother’s whereabouts, but Ellen says nothing, and Benny tells him... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Two: Christmas Festivities
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...slaves who fear separation on hiring day, which arrives just after the holidays. She hears Benny telling a friend that Santa Claus has brought his presents because his mother is away,... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Three: Still in Prison
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...Linda feels helpless when her family encounters problems. One day, she sees a dog attack Benny in the yard but is unable to come to his assistance. Moreover, Grandmother becomes seriously... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
As Mrs. Flint leaves, she notices Benny’s wound and announces her wish that the dog had killed the boy, so she could... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Six: Important Era in My Brother’s Life
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
One afternoon, Linda hears Benny and Ellen asking Grandmother if they will ever see their mother again or live with... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Seven: New Destination for the Children
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...two illegitimate children. Before she has the chance to do so, Mrs. Sands runs into Benny on the street and remarks on his good looks; Mr. Sands confesses that he is... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...is shy and confused, but then she embraces Linda and says how much she and Benny have missed her. She is scared to leave her family and live among strangers, and... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Preparations for Escape
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...in order to avoid being sold, and is hiding with her mother Aggie next door. Benny happened to catch a glimpse of her and told Grandmother, who warned him never to... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...Jenny doesn’t have time to go to the Flints before she leaves. She asks for Benny to be brought to the shed and he confesses that he’s always suspected she was... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Linda explains that she is going north and that if Benny is good, God will reunite them soon. As they are embracing, Grandmother comes in, bringing... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Three: A Home Found
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...bitter time.” When holding Mary, whom she loves, Linda recalls the infancy of Ellen and Benny. One day, looking out the window, she sees a man in a sailor’s uniform and... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Old Enemy Again
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...why, Linda goes to Boston for two weeks, writing to Grandmother that if she sends Benny north, he should go to Boston. One morning she wakes up to a knock on... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Chattering away, Benny asks when Ellen is going to come live with them. He’s been to see her... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...is unsuccessful. As soon as she knows he’s left, she returns to her job, leaving Benny with William in Boston. She enjoys her work and feels very secure in the Bruce... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Renewed Invitations to Go South
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...finds herself fearing her own country. She finds Ellen making strides in her education, but Benny absent. He had been apprenticed to learn a trade, but when the other apprentices learn... (full context)
Chapter Forty: The Fugitive Slave Law
Women Theme Icon
William decides to move to California and takes Benny with him. Ellen is flourishing at school; everyone is very kind to her, especially when... (full context)
Chapter Forty-One: Free At Last
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...“my story ends with freedom; not in the usual way, with marriage.” She rejoices that Benny and Ellen are safe both from slaveholders in the South and “the white people of... (full context)