Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by

Harriet Jacobs

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Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent Character Analysis

Harriet Jacobs is the author of the narrative. As its protagonist, she takes on the name Linda Brent in order to avoid recognition after its publication. Born into slavery in North Carolina, Linda is forced to work for Mrs. Flint, a vicious and self-centered mistress, and Dr. Flint, who constantly sexually harasses her. In order to avoid rape at the hands of Dr. Flint, Linda has an affair with another slave owner, Mr. Sands, and bears two children, Benny and Ellen. Eventually, fearing that her children will be sent to work on the Flints’ plantation, she runs away and manages to reunite with her children in New York, where she ends the narrative just as she’s becoming an activist for abolition. Linda is an extraordinarily determined and perseverant young woman with a strong sense of her own rights and moral duties. Even though it often seems impossible to evade Dr. Flint, she resists him at all costs, both because she doesn’t want to “submit to compulsion” at any time and because she feels it’s her Christian duty to safeguard her sexual purity. Likewise, Linda is a devoted mother with strong feelings of duty towards her children and an insistence on her rights as a mother, even though she sees those rights ignored by slave owners every day. When she has to sacrifice her chastity by having an affair with Mr. Sands, she suffers deep feelings of shame, but with the help of her daughter she eventually puts these feelings behind her and realizes that she’s not accountable for the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager. Linda uses her story to bring attention to the specific predicament of enslaved women whose ability to fulfill sexual standards and concerns as mothers are constantly violated by slavery. In doing so, she frames the issue in terms of the erosion of valued social mores like chastity and motherhood, and makes her argument more appealing to her Northern middle-class audience, proving herself a shrewd as well as deeply evocative writer.

Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent 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 Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent or refer to Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent. 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 1 Quotes

My mistress had taught me the precepts of God’s Word: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” But I was her slave, and I suppose she did not recognize me as her neighbor.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), First Mistress
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

I spent the day gathering flowers and weaving them into festoons, while the dead body of my father was lying within a mile of me. What cared my owners for that? He was merely a piece of property. Moreover, they thought he had spoiled his children, by teaching them to feel that they were human beings. This was blasphemous doctrine for a slave to teach…

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Father, Mrs. Flint
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

When my grandmother applied for him for payment he said the estate was insolvent, and the law prohibited payment. It did not, however, prohibit him from retaining the silver candelabra, which had been purchased with that money. I presume they will be handed down in the family, from generation to generation.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Grandmother, Dr. Flint
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

The girl’s mother said, “The baby is dead, thank God; and I hope my poor child will soon be in heaven, too.”

“Heaven!” retorted the mistress. “There is no such place for the like of her and her bastard.”

The poor mother turned away, sobbing. Her dying daughter called her feebly… “Don’t grieve so, mother; God knows all about it; and He will have mercy upon me.”

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

But to the slave mother New Year’s day comes laden with peculiar sorrows. She sits on her cold cabin floor, watching the children who may all be torn from her the next morning; and often does she wish that she and they might die before the day dawns. She may be an ignorant creature, degraded by the system that has brutalized her from her childhood; but she has a mother’s instincts, and is capable of a mother’s agonies.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Related Symbols: Houses and Homes
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

For my master, whose restless, craving, vicious nature roved about day and night, seeking whom to devour, had just left me, with stinging, scorching words; words that scathed ear and brain like fire. O, how I despised him! I thought how glad I should be if some day when he walked the earth, it would open and swallow him up…

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Dr. Flint
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

He tried his utmost to corrupt the pure principles my grandmother had instilled. He peopled my young mind with unclean images, such as only a vile monster could think of…But he was my master. I was compelled to live under the same roof with him … He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Dr. Flint
Related Symbols: Houses and Homes
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

If God has bestowed beauty upon her, it will prove her greatest curse. That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave. I know that some are too much brutalized by slavery to feel the humiliation of their position; but many slaves feel it most acutely, and shrink from the memory of it.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

She felt that her marriage vows were desecrated, her dignity insulted; but she had no compassion for the poor victim of her husband’s perfidy. She pitied herself as a martyr; but she was incapable of feeling for the condition of shame and misery in which her unfortunate, helpless slave was placed.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Mrs. Flint
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

The young wife soon learns that the husband in whose hands she has placed her happiness pays no regard to his marriage vows. Children of every shade of complexion play with her own fair babies, and too well she knows that they are born unto him of his own household. Jealousy and hatred enter the flowery home, and it is ravaged of its loveliness.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Related Symbols: Houses and Homes
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Some poor creatures have been so brutalized by the lash that they will sneak out of the way to give their masters free access to their wives and daughters. Do you think this proves the black man to belong to an inferior order of beings? What would you be, if you had been born and brought up a slave…

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

I can testify, from my own experience and observation, that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks. It makes the white fathers cruel and sensual; the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters, and makes the wives wretched.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

But O, ye happy women, whose purity has been sheltered from childhood, who have been free to choose the objects of your affection, whose homes are protected by law, do not judge the poor desolate slave girl too severely! If slavery had been abolished I too could have married the man of my choice; I could have had a home shielded by the laws…

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Related Symbols: Houses and Homes
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

I know I did wrong. No one can feel it more sensibly than I do…Still, in looking back, calmly, on the events of my life, I feel that the slave woman ought not to be judged by the same standard as others.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

You must forsake your sinful ways, and be faithful servants. Obey your old master and your young master…if you disobey your earthly master, you offend your heavenly Master. You must obey God’s commandments.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Reverend Pike
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

There is a great difference between Christianity and religion at the south. If a man goes to the communion table, and pays money into the treasury of the church, no matter if it be the price of blood, he is called religious.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker)
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
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 30 Quotes

Yet that intelligent, enterprising, noble-hearted man was a chattel! Liable, by the laws of a country that calls itself civilized, to be sold with horses and pigs!

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Peter
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

I replied, “God alone knows how much I have suffered; and He, I trust, will forgive me. If I am permitted to have my children, I intend to be a good mother, and to live in such a manner that people cannot treat me with contempt.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Mr. Durham
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

I did not discover till years afterward that Mr. Thorne’s intemperance was not the only annoyance she suffered from…he had poured vile language into the ears of [Grandmother’s] innocent great-grandchild.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), Ellen, Mr. Thorne
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

I thought that if he was my own father, he ought to love me. I was a little girl then, and didn’t know any better. But now I never think any thing about my father. All my love is for you.

Related Characters: Ellen (speaker), Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent, Mr. Sands
Page Number: 154
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:
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Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent Character Timeline in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The timeline below shows where the character Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent appears in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One: Childhood
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Linda Brent is born into slavery, but she “never knew it” for most of her childhood.... (full context)
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Linda is also under the care of her grandmother, a strong and determined woman. The illegitimate... (full context)
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When Linda is six, her mother dies. Her mother’s mistress – the daughter of Grandmother’s mistress –... (full context)
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When Linda is twelve, the mistress dies. Linda is old enough to worry about what will happen... (full context)
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In her will, the mistress gives Linda to her five-year-old niece, Emily Flint. The family’s hopes are dashed, and it’s bitter to... (full context)
Chapter Two: The New Master and Mistress
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A year later, Grandmother delivers the sad news that Linda’s father has died. Grandmother tries to comfort her by saying that God has saved her... (full context)
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Linda and William are both more depressed than ever; when she tries to comfort her brother... (full context)
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Linda once sees Dr. Flint tie up and whip a slave from his plantation who offended... (full context)
Chapter Three: The Slaves’ New Year’s Day
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Linda describes the practice of hiring-day, which takes place on January 1. Many slave owners rent... (full context)
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Linda imagines the New Year’s celebrations of “you happy free women,” who are able to relax... (full context)
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One hiring day, Linda witnesses a mother’s seven children sold away from her at once. The slave trader can’t... (full context)
Chapter Four: The Slave Who Dared to Feel Like a Man
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...preserves and bread. She tells her enslaved children and grandchildren to “pray for contentment,” but Linda and her youngest son Benjamin reject this argument, feeling that it can’t be “the will... (full context)
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Grandmother can’t help Linda with the new oppression she’s now facing. Dr. Flint, “whose restless, craving, vicious nature roved... (full context)
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Linda counsels William to be “good and forgiving,” but she knows that she herself does not... (full context)
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In February, Grandmother has just bought Linda a badly-needed pair of shoes. However, the shoes’ noise bothers Mrs. Flint and she forbids... (full context)
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One day, William comes to Linda telling her that their Uncle Benjamin has impetuously gotten in a fistfight with his master,... (full context)
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...Grandmother alone. Benjamin says she should use her savings to buy Phillip and, if possible, Linda. After he and Phillip bid farewell, the family never hears from Benjamin again. (full context)
Chapter Five: The Trials of Girlhood
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During her first years at the Flint house, Linda is treated like a child, and sometimes allowed to share “indulgences” with the Flint children.... (full context)
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...position…many slaves feel it most acutely.” Everyone in the house knows what is happening to Linda, but no one can do anything against it. (full context)
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Linda wants to go to Grandmother for advice, but she’s both terrified of Dr. Flint’s rage... (full context)
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Once, Linda sees two children playing together: a white girl and her slave and illegitimate sister. The... (full context)
Chapter Six: The Jealous Mistress
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Linda would rather her children grow up paupers in Ireland, where they can pursue a morally... (full context)
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...anger towards them. She watches her husband constantly, but he finds ways to get to Linda undetected, for example sending her inappropriate letters once he finds out she can write, or... (full context)
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Mrs. Flint becomes more and more angry at her husband. In order to get Linda alone, Dr. Flint decides to move his youngest daughter’s crib into his own suite of... (full context)
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Linda tells the truth, feeling sad for the obvious grief and humiliation Mrs. Flint displays. However,... (full context)
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Instead, Linda has to sleep in Mrs. Flint’s room. Linda is often terrified to find the older... (full context)
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Suspecting what’s going on, Grandmother tries to buy Linda, but Dr. Flint always refuses, saying that she rightly belongs to his daughter. Linda says... (full context)
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The terrible situation Linda is describing is typical of many Southern homes. She can’t believe that Northerners cooperate with... (full context)
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There are a few exceptions to this trend. Linda knows two wives who pressured their husbands into freeing their illegitimate children and, by “displaying... (full context)
Chapter Seven: The Lover
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...to fall in love, when separation and disaster is always at hand. As a teenager Linda doesn’t understand this and she falls in love with a freeborn carpenter, who wants to... (full context)
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Linda goes to a white friend of Grandmother’s, explains her situation, and asks her to convince... (full context)
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Dr. Flint reminds Linda that he can do whatever he wants to her, and she retorts that he might... (full context)
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For two weeks Dr. Flint doesn’t speak to Linda, but she’s scared and oppressed by his malicious watchfulness. Eventually, he informs her that he’s... (full context)
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Once, Dr. Flint catches Linda speaking to the carpenter in the street; at home he taunts her, asking when her... (full context)
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The only consolation left in Linda’s life is her close relationship with William. Even that bond is not secure, though—she worries... (full context)
Chapter Eight: What Slaves are Taught to Think of the North
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...owners often tell lies to prevent slaves from wanting to run away. One man tells Linda that he’s seen her runaway friend literally dying of starvation in New York and begging... (full context)
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Linda says it’s imperative to teach slaves about the importance of liberty and dignity—values their masters... (full context)
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Linda continues that under the conditions of slavery, it’s nearly impossible for people to develop the... (full context)
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...and even working to end it, but their knowledge is very confused. One woman tells Linda a rumor that the “Queen of ‘Merica” is arguing with the president for the freedom... (full context)
Chapter Nine: Sketches of Neighboring Slaveholders
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Linda describes some of the other slave owners in the city, and the violence they inflict... (full context)
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Linda says that “cruelty is contagious in uncivilized communities.” A neighbor of Mr. Litch punishes a... (full context)
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Exceptions to this trend are rare. Linda knows one young woman who owned a woman and six children, whom she treated very... (full context)
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In fact, the “all-pervading corruption produced by slavery” is so great that Linda can hardly describe it. No matter how kindly raised a slave girl is, she will... (full context)
Chapter Ten: A Perilous Passage in the Slave Girl’s Life
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Dr. Flint contrives another plan to bring Linda under his will: he informs her that he’s building her a house of her own,... (full context)
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Addressing the reader, Linda says that she has to relate a shameful time of her life “which I would... (full context)
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Still, Linda appeals to “ye happy women, whose purity has been sheltered from childhood” not to judge... (full context)
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...happens, after hearing about Dr. Flint’s conduct, another slave owner, Mr. Sands, become interested in Linda, writing sympathetic letters to her. His behavior is flattering and he’s much kinder and more... (full context)
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When Linda sees Dr. Flint actually start building the house, she knows she can exact revenge and... (full context)
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As the months pass, Linda is still very anxious, especially because she knows Grandmother will be enraged to find that... (full context)
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Fearing Dr. Flint’s retribution now that she’s confessed, Linda goes to Grandmother’s house. Soon Mrs. Flint arrives, screaming at Linda and accusing her of... (full context)
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Linda doesn’t know where to go, so she walks aimlessly for a few miles and collapses... (full context)
Chapter Eleven: The New Tie to Life
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Linda goes home with Grandmother, who talks to Mr. Sands and extracts his promise to care... (full context)
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Although this is a welcome reprieve, Dr. Flint comes to the house often, demanding that Linda reveal the father of her child and forbidding her from having any further contact with... (full context)
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Uncle Phillip returns to the city from a business trip, but Linda is saddened and ashamed to see him. She feels that Grandmother was right when she... (full context)
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...employs William as a physician’s assistant. William is adept and competent in his tasks, and Linda is proud of him. Dr. Flint observes their close relationship and tries to taint it... (full context)
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Linda’s baby boy, Benny, grows older and stronger. Whenever she’s “most sorely oppressed” she takes comfort... (full context)
Chapter Twelve: Fear of Insurrection
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...Most of the slaves are ignorant of what’s going on but because she can read, Linda knows that terror and punishment is about to descend on them. She knows that the... (full context)
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...of the men suggests she’s stolen them and says, “white folks oughter have ‘em all.” Linda also comes under suspicion when the men find some letters addressed to her, but by... (full context)
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...material damages. However, as the night draws near the men get drunker and more violent. Linda is afraid to look out the window, but she sees men dragging people down the... (full context)
Chapter Thirteen: The Church and Slavery
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...decide that the slaves should attend religious services “to keep them from murdering their masters.” Linda is invited to attend a new Episcopal service for black people. Reverend Pike, the pastor,... (full context)
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...eventually get bored and switch to Methodist services, which are full of singing and dancing. Linda feels that these people are more “sincere” Christians than the “sanctimonious” Reverend Pike. (full context)
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Once, Linda attends a Methodist service and sits next to a mother who is broken-hearted, having just... (full context)
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Linda becomes friends with an elderly slave, Fred, who has recently joined the Baptist church and... (full context)
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Linda says that missionaries should “talk to American slaveholders as you talk to savages in Africa,”... (full context)
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It seems to Linda that there is an important divide between “Christianity and religion” in the South. For example,... (full context)
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In response to this, Linda says she would be happy “if I could be allowed to live like a Christian.”... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen: Another Link to Life
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Because of Mrs. Flint’s antipathy towards her, Linda is still living in Grandmother’s house. Dr. Flint frequently visits and scolds her for “lowering... (full context)
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Soon, Linda gets pregnant again. When she tells Dr. Flint, he becomes enraged and, in revenge, cuts... (full context)
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Linda gives birth to a baby girl. She despairs at finding out her baby’s gender, being... (full context)
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Grandmother is determined to have the children christened, even though Linda knows Dr. Flint would forbid such a thing. While he is on a business trip,... (full context)
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The children are christened Benjamin (Benny) and Ellen; Linda gives them the surname of her father, who derived it from his own father, a... (full context)
Chapter Fifteen: Continued Persecutions
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To free Linda from Dr. Flint’s continued harassment, her family and friends try to buy her again, commissioning... (full context)
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When Linda responds sharply, Benny runs up and throws his arms around his mother, as if to... (full context)
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...whom Dr. Flint has sold to a trader that day is spending the night with Linda’s family before leaving. Dr. Flint arrives at the house and orders her away, but she’s... (full context)
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Dr. Flint jeers at Grandmother, accusing her of “sanctioning” Linda’s extramarital relationship. She retorts that he should start praying so he can “wash the dirt... (full context)
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...enraged and jealous any time she’s not home when he arrives. He tries to bribe Linda, telling her that her children can be “free” and her life easy if she agrees... (full context)
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Linda immediately rejects the offer. Calmly, Dr. Flint says that if she doesn’t obey him, he... (full context)
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Moreover, Linda fears that she will experience abuse from Nicholas Flint, who runs the plantation; knowing his... (full context)
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...family, even nursing Mrs. Flint along with her own children. She again offers to buy Linda, but Dr. Flint rebuffs her, telling her that Linda must go to the plantation “for... (full context)
Chapter Sixteen: Scenes at the Plantation
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Linda leaves the next morning, accompanied by Ellen but leaving Benny, who is sick, with Grandmother.... (full context)
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Linda works hard, not wanting to seem “too much of a lady.” Every day she sees... (full context)
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The next day, Linda sends Ellen back to Grandmother without asking permission. She doesn’t get in trouble because she’s... (full context)
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After three weeks on the plantation, Linda sneaks out at night to visit her children, walking quickly and fearfully back to the... (full context)
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...sewing and remembering old stories. Mrs. Flint hates that people from her family associate with Linda and Grandmother, but fortunately Miss Fanny has an independent fortune and can do what she... (full context)
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Linda is happy to see Miss Fanny, especially when the old woman confides that she’s visited... (full context)
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After six weeks the house is ready for the new bride, and Linda receives permission to spend that Sunday with her family. She goes to Grandmother’s house; the... (full context)
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Again, Linda feels shame that she hasn’t managed to be as pure and virtuous as her mother.... (full context)
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Linda’s plan is to hide with a friend for a few weeks, until Dr. Flint gets... (full context)
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She says Linda should not depend on Mr. Sands for anything but “stand by our own children, and... (full context)
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Linda returns to the plantation, and soon the bride arrives. The slaves are excited, hoping the... (full context)
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At dinner Linda has to wait upon Dr. Flint and Mrs. Flint, who are visiting. She hasn’t seen... (full context)
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Linda starts working as a maid for the young Mrs. Flint. As she expected, the bride... (full context)
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...older Mrs. Flint visits the plantation for a private conference with the young Mrs. Flint. Linda assumes that they’re talking about her, and Mrs. Flint is urging her to be kept... (full context)
Chapter Seventeen: The Flight
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That night, knowing she must escape, Linda finishes her chores so distractedly that Nicholas scolds her. She waits for the family to... (full context)
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In the morning, Nicholas Flint interrogates Grandmother about Linda’s whereabouts; Dr. Flint is enraged to hear about her escape and searches Grandmother’s entire house,... (full context)
Chapter Eighteen: Months of Peril
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The search lasts longer than Linda expects, and she begins to think she’ll never be able to leave the town. Once... (full context)
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Dr. Flint has threatened Linda’s family and urged her to return to him, but she is determined not to. At... (full context)
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Grandmother gets word to Linda, telling her to be ready. On the specified night her friend Betty, the white woman’s... (full context)
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Linda hopes that Dr. Flint will sell her children soon, but he seems to want revenge... (full context)
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...cries so much while she’s there that Mrs. Flint soon sends her back to jail. Linda is proud of her daughter for her instinctual loathing of the Flint household, but she... (full context)
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To frighten Linda, Dr. Flint falsely tells Grandmother that he knows where she is and will soon capture... (full context)
Chapter Nineteen: The Children Sold
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...trading slaves is “a bad business for a fellow that’s got any heart.” Having heard Linda’s story, he’s helped in Mr. Sands’ plan without even charging a fee. (full context)
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Meanwhile, Linda is sitting in the attic, alone for the night. She hears a band playing a... (full context)
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...in a fury, threatening to kill her and Phillip if he finds out they’re helping Linda. Grandmother is unmoved, knowing how much his power over her family has been reduced. For... (full context)
Chapter Twenty: New Perils
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Dr. Flint has Uncle Phillip arrested, trying to charge him with helping Linda. Mr. Sands works to have him released, as there is no proof, but in the... (full context)
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Linda knows she must find a new hiding place. She’s stayed here longer than intended, and... (full context)
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Linda has arranged to meet her Uncle Phillip, but she doesn’t know if she’s escaping or... (full context)
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After another day in this hellish environment Peter decides that she must go home. Linda disguises herself and darkens her face with charcoal and they walk openly through the streets... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-One: The Loophole of Retreat
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The garret is uncomfortable and depressing, but Linda says she would easily choose living here over living in slavery. Even though her life... (full context)
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At night, the family brings Linda food and keeps her company, but she’s completely alone during the day. She crawls around... (full context)
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...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 wants to see his mother.... (full context)
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Linda gradually gets used to reading and sewing in the feeble light. However, life in the... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Two: Christmas Festivities
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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Linda sews new clothes as presents for her children. Her thoughts are with the plantation slaves... (full context)
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Linda relates the regional Christmas custom of the Johnkannaus. These are groups of male slaves from... (full context)
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...everything, ostensibly in pride over her housekeeping but really to avert suspicion that she’s hiding Linda. He’s accompanied by a free black man who does “mean work” for the slave holders... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Three: Still in Prison
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As spring unfolds, Linda becomes impatient with hiding, but her family has been unable to find any safe route... (full context)
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Looking out her window, Linda sees many scenes of local slave life. Once she sees a woman trudging by in... (full context)
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The second winter is especially difficult for Linda. Her limbs stiffen in the cold and she even sometimes loses the ability to speak;... (full context)
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Moreover, Linda feels helpless when her family encounters problems. One day, she sees a dog attack Benny... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Candidate for Congress
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...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... (full context)
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The night before he leaves, Linda descends stiffly into the shed. Mr. Sands stops at the house briefly to see the... (full context)
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Linda tells Mr. Sands that she’s not asking for any help for herself, but she wants... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Five: Competition in Cunning
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In order to mislead Dr. Flint further, Linda writes him some letters which she entrusts to Peter to take north and post from... (full context)
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Grandmother is troubled when she finds out what Linda has done, thinking it will backfire on them in some way. Linda also confides in... (full context)
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...he comes to Grandmother’s house in triumph. He sees this as an opportunity to lure Linda south again, and says that Uncle Phillip should go to see her and promise that... (full context)
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...this task, making the excuse that the North is full of abolitionists who won’t let Linda return south. Dr. Flint brags that he has written to the mayor of Boston, asking... (full context)
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It’s a relief to see Dr. Flint convinced that Linda is not in the area, as it takes some pressure off her family. Feeling slightly... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Six: Important Era in My Brother’s Life
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Linda pines greatly for William, who has gone with Mr. Sands to Washington. After the legislative... (full context)
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Grandmother is distraught rather than happy, thinking that she’ll never see William again. Linda is jealous that her brother is free while she is trapped, although she berates herself... (full context)
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One afternoon, Linda hears Benny and Ellen asking Grandmother if they will ever see their mother again or... (full context)
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...she will never know where they are. At least Grandmother knows that William has escaped. Linda admires this woman’s ability to take pleasure in William’s triumph even amidst her own woes,... (full context)
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Much later, William tells Linda what actually happened: he doesn’t need abolitionists to tell him about freedom, and he decided... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Seven: New Destination for the Children
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...so much that she offers to adopt her; Mrs. Sands wants to adopt Benjamin. When Linda learns of this offer, she is distraught. She knows that it seems good for her... (full context)
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Grandmother visits Mr. Sands, reminding him that Linda is still very much alive and does not want to see her children adopted. He... (full context)
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...she can go to school and be taken care of. It’s a good arrangement, but Linda still feels as if her children are caught between two masters. On the way to... (full context)
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Linda is desperate to see Ellen face-to-face before she departs. Her family warns against it, since... (full context)
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Linda reassures Ellen that some day they will all live together again in the North. Mother... (full context)
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...children, and says that taking Ellen away is an act of theft from her daughter. Linda is astounded that she thinks it moral for her daughter to “steal my children” but... (full context)
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Linda goes weeks without hearing anything about Ellen. Grandmother sends letters to Washington and Brooklyn, but... (full context)
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...to school, but adds that her cousin “has given her to me” as a maid. Linda is confused and disturbed—she doesn’t actually have any proof that Mr. Sands has freed Ellen,... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Aunt Nancy
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Linda breaks away from her own narrative to relate the story of Aunt Nancy’s life. At... (full context)
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...Nancy is in charge of the Flint house. Although she behaves meekly, she always encourages Linda to escape and save her children, frequently visiting the shed to encourage her. Everyone in... (full context)
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Six years after Linda starts living in the shed, Aunt Nancy becomes deathly ill and Grandmother returns to the... (full context)
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Linda is devastated to hear of Aunt Nancy’s death, although Uncle Phillip assures her she died... (full context)
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...family buries Aunt Nancy in a plain but dignified funeral, which even the Flints attend. Linda says that the image might seem like “proof of the attachment” between master and slave,... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Preparations for Escape
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All in all, Linda spends seven years in the miserable garret, all the time dreaming of escape, worrying about... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Linda has recently found out that an acquaintance, Fanny, run away in order to avoid being... (full context)
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One night, Peter arrives at the house and tells Linda that he’s found a way for her to escape to the North on a ship.... (full context)
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Just before the intended departure, the ship on which Linda is supposed to escape is detained for several days. At the same time, a recaptured... (full context)
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...it stays docked for several days, to everyone’s consternation. On the third day Grandmother calls Linda out of the attic; she’s panicking about the likelihood of Fanny being discovered, and Linda... (full context)
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Uncle Phillip says that Linda must get on the boat with Fanny. Informed about the emergency, Peter rushes to the... (full context)
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Linda passes the day in anxiety, hoping that Jenny doesn’t have time to go to the... (full context)
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Linda explains that she is going north and that if Benny is good, God will reunite... (full context)
Chapter Thirty: Northward Bound
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At the wharf, Linda bids farewell to Uncle Phillip and Peter; she’s grateful that her friend has risked so... (full context)
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Fanny is amazed to see Linda arrive in the cabin, and she has to explain her whereabouts for the last years.... (full context)
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The voyage proceeds without issue, but Linda can’t help mistrusting the captain and sailors. It’s completely within their power to turn around... (full context)
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By the time the ship arrives in Philadelphia, Linda feels that the captain could not have treated her better if she was a white... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-One: Incidents in Philadelphia
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...to New York. The man turns out to be a pastor, Reverend Durham; he treats Linda like an old friend and offers to host her in his house and find Fanny... (full context)
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Linda is curious to travel through such a large and busy city. Mrs. Durham welcomes her... (full context)
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After dinner, Mr. Durham takes Linda for a walk. She tells him her entire story, even confessing that she has two... (full context)
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Later in the evening, an abolitionist friend of the family arrives, eager to meet Linda. They ask about her escape but are cautious not to inquire about her marital status... (full context)
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That night, Linda goes to bed a free woman for the first time. Hours later she wakes up... (full context)
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The next day, Mrs. Durham shows Linda Philadelphia’s busy markets and takes her to an art gallery where some portraits of her... (full context)
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After five days, a friend accompanies Linda and Fanny to New York. She discovers that they have to travel in the second-class... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Two: The Meeting of Mother and Daughter
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In New York, Linda and Fanny are overwhelmed by the confusion of the train station. An untrustworthy cab driver... (full context)
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The friend takes Linda to Brooklyn, where another black woman from their area is living. On the street, she... (full context)
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Mrs. Hobbs cordially invites Linda to the house, and she’s able to speak further with her daughter. Ellen says that... (full context)
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As Linda prepares to leave, Mrs. Hobbs tells her “coolly” that Mr. Sands has given Ellen to... (full context)
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Feeling it necessary to legally free herself as soon as possible, Linda writes to Dr. Flint and Emily Flint asking him to sell her to Grandmother. She... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Three: A Home Found
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Mrs. Bruce suggests that Ellen come to live at her house, but Linda is afraid to offend Mrs. Hobbs, who could easily apprise Dr. Flint of her whereabouts.... (full context)
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Altogether, this is both a “sweet and bitter time.” When holding Mary, whom she loves, Linda recalls the infancy of Ellen and Benny. One day, looking out the window, she sees... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Old Enemy Again
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After some time, Linda receives a letter supposedly written by one of the young Flint sons. He encourages her... (full context)
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...He’s been to see her in Brooklyn on the way north, and she looked sad. Linda spends the day buying her son clothes and hearing about the journey. (full context)
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Meanwhile, Dr. Flint visits New York and tries to learn where Linda is, but is unsuccessful. As soon as she knows he’s left, she returns to her... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Five: Prejudice Against Color
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For the summer vacation, Linda accompanies the Bruce family on a cruise to Albany. At tea, all the white maids... (full context)
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On another vacation that summer, Linda is staying in a hotel with the Bruces. At dinner, she brings Mary to a... (full context)
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The landlord tells Mr. Bruce that Linda is creating a problem, because the black servants of other guests will be dissatisfied that... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Six: The Hairbreadth Escape
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Returning to New York, Linda visits Ellen. She knows that Mrs. Hobbs’s Southern brother, Mr. Thorne, is visiting so she... (full context)
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Ellen never complains about her situation, but Linda can tell she’s unhappy. Questioning her one day, she finds that since Mr. Thorne has... (full context)
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One Sunday when Linda goes to visit her daughter, Ellen reveals that she’s found a torn-up letter from Mr.... (full context)
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Linda is frustrated to leave a good job and disrupt her plans for her children, all... (full context)
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Linda, William, and Ellen board a steamboat towards Boston. Normally, black passengers are not allowed to... (full context)
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Arriving in Boston, Linda feels happier and safer than ever before—even better, she’s finally reunited with both her children.... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Seven: A Visit to England
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In the spring, Linda is saddened to learn that Mrs. Bruce has died suddenly. Mr. Bruce decides to take... (full context)
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Traveling into the country, Linda sees families who work in the fields for pitiful wages and live in tiny, “primitive”... (full context)
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Moreover, Linda receives “strong religious impressions” in England, where the genuine faith and humility of the clergymen... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Renewed Invitations to Go South
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As the ship approaches New York, Linda finds herself fearing her own country. She finds Ellen making strides in her education, but... (full context)
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Soon after this, Linda receives a letter from Emily Flint, now married and called Mrs. Dodge. She reiterates her... (full context)
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Even though it might give her more peace of mind, Linda rejects the idea of trying to buy her freedom from Mrs. Dodge. She wants to... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Confession
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...years of living in Boston, William offers to pay for Ellen to attend boarding school. Linda hates to part with her, but knows it’s important that she get the best education... (full context)
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The night before Ellen leaves, Linda begins to tell her how Dr. Flint had “driven [her] into a great sin,” but... (full context)
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Some weeks after Ellen departs for school, Linda receives a letter from William inviting her to join him in establishing an abolitionist reading... (full context)
Chapter Forty: The Fugitive Slave Law
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...kind to her, especially when they discover that her mother is a fugitive slave. Meanwhile, Linda returns to work for Mr. Bruce, who has remarried and had another baby. The young... (full context)
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...passage of this law is one of the reasons that William moves to California and Linda, fearful for her safety, goes out as infrequently as possible and always uses back roads—she’s... (full context)
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In the street one day, Linda meets a former slave from her own city, Luke. This man had a particularly cruel... (full context)
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Luke tells Linda that he plans to go to Canada. Before his escape, he cleverly obtained some money... (full context)
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Again, Linda receives warning that Dr. Flint knows she’s in New York and is trying to capture... (full context)
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...she says she’d much rather pay a fine or go to prison rather than have Linda “torn from my house.” Linda goes to New England, where she stays briefly with a... (full context)
Chapter Forty-One: Free At Last
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Even though Dr. Flint has gone, Linda continues to feel anxious. Meanwhile, it’s clear that Grandmother is approaching the end of her... (full context)
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Shortly after this, Grandmother writes again to Linda telling her that Dr. Flint is dead, and hoping he has reconciled himself with God.... (full context)
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Linda is still in danger, as she receives word that Mrs. Flint is encouraging her daughter... (full context)
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Linda sends a friend to visit the Dodges in their hotel, ostensibly to ask after his... (full context)
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...Mrs. Bruce writes her proposing to resolve the situation by buying Ellen’s freedom herself, but Linda is reluctant to accept the offer—she hates to treat herself as “an article of property,”... (full context)
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Linda is astounded to find that she has been “sold” in the supposedly free city of... (full context)
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Nevertheless, Linda feels relieved that she will never have to hide or escape again. Young Mrs. Bruce... (full context)
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Grandmother lives long enough to hear of Linda’s freedom before her death. Soon afterward, Uncle Phillip dies as well. Linda is surprised to... (full context)
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Linda concludes that “my story ends with freedom; not in the usual way, with marriage.” She... (full context)