Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by

Harriet Jacobs

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Mr. Sands Character Analysis

A slave owner who expresses sexual interest in Linda and whom she eventually accepts as her lover, in order to distance herself from Dr. Flint. Linda’s relationship with Mr. Sands causes her deep shame, as it forces her to break the religious principles to which she’s been loyal all her life. Mr. Sands is much more humane than Dr. Flint; she describes him as much kinder and less threatening, and he helps protect her from her master’s wrath. At the same time, he takes notably little interest in the well-being of his children or paramour. While Linda sees Ellen and Benny as the center of her existence, he only visits them when he wants a diversion. He does buy the children from Dr. Flint after Linda runs away, but he’s hesitant to free them after doing so and sends Ellen to live with his cousin Mrs. Hobbs, who is neglectful and claims that she owns the girl. Later, Ellen tells Linda that during a period of time when she lived with Mr. Sands, he never played with her or hugged her as he did his white children. Even though Linda’s relationship to Mr. Sands is positive compared to her interactions with other slave owners in the city, it’s seriously compromised by the huge imbalance of power that slavery causes. Moreover, Mr. Sands’s apathy as a father contrasts sharply with Linda’s dedication as a mother, and argues the necessity for black women to be able to legally protect their own children.

Mr. Sands 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 Mr. Sands or refer to Mr. Sands. 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 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:
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Mr. Sands Character Timeline in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Sands appears in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Ten: A Perilous Passage in the Slave Girl’s Life
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
As it 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... (full context)
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
...she can exact revenge and gain some protection by becoming involved with another man. Perhaps Mr. Sands will even buy her; if she has any children, Linda is determined that Dr. Flint... (full context)
Chapter Eleven: The New Tie to Life
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Linda goes home with Grandmother, who talks to Mr. Sands and extracts his promise to care for their child. Dr. Flint comes to the house... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...that he will sell her to a slave trader, who would then sell her to Mr. Sands . (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...slave” and sometimes even wishes he will die and be spared a life of pain. Mr. Sands visits occasionally to see his son; he offers to give Benny his surname, but Linda... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen: Another Link to Life
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
...house. Dr. Flint frequently visits and scolds her for “lowering herself” by her involvement with Mr. Sands . She doesn’t care about his opinion, but she deeply regrets that she no longer... (full context)
Chapter Fifteen: Continued Persecutions
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...trader to negotiate with her master. However, Dr. Flint assumes the trader is working for Mr. Sands and refuses to sell her. He sneers at Linda, deriding her for her desire to... (full context)
Chapter Sixteen: Scenes at the Plantation
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...Flint will worry about the children disappearing as well, so he will sell them to Mr. Sands . Linda is packing her things when Grandmother comes into the room, sees what she’s... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
She says Linda should not depend on Mr. Sands for anything but “stand by our own children, and suffer with them till death.” Uncertain,... (full context)
Chapter Nineteen: The Children Sold
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Of course, Dr. Flint returns from New York having failed in his quest. Mr. Sands again tries to buy the children, sending a slave trader to offer good prices. At... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...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)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...Grandmother’s house, where the family has a clandestine but joyous celebration, giving thanks to God. Mr. Sands visits briefly to see his children’s happiness. (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...into the attic smiling joyfully, telling her that her children and brother now belong to Mr. Sands . Thinking how angry Dr. Flint is going to be, she laughs. (full context)
Chapter Twenty: New Perils
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
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 meantime Linda... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Candidate for Congress
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
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,... (full context)
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... (full context)
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse 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... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Six: Important Era in My Brother’s Life
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Linda pines greatly for William, who has gone with Mr. Sands to Washington. After the legislative session, he accompanies him on a trip to the North.... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Mr. Sands announces that he’s returning to the South with a new bride. The family is eager... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...while she is trapped, although she berates herself for being selfish. Moreover, she’s worried that Mr. Sands will be annoyed at the money he’s lost with William’s escape and take revenge by... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Soon the family gets a letter from William, saying that although Mr. Sands is a kind master, he has always wanted to be free, and that he will... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Mr. Sands tells Uncle Phillip that William left brazenly; he even saw him carrying his trunk away,... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
...abolitionists to tell him about freedom, and he decided to run away independently, knowing that Mr. Sands might decide not to free him at any time in the future. He conscientiously refrained... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Seven: New Destination for the Children
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Mr. Sands has brought a wife back from the North, and Mrs. Flint threatens to inform her... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
Grandmother visits Mr. Sands , reminding him that Linda is still very much alive and does not want to... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
For her safety, Mr. Sands suggests sending Ellen to live with his cousin in Brooklyn, where she can go to... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...out that Ellen has been sent away, they are very disgruntled. Mrs. Flint says that Mr. Sands has shown bad character by acknowledging his enslaved children, and says that taking Ellen away... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...Grandmother sends letters to Washington and Brooklyn, but no one responds. Linda feels betrayed by Mr. Sands , who had once spoken to her “protectingly and persuasively” but has now “broken and... (full context)
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
After six months a letter arrives from Mr. Sands ’s cousin, Mrs. Hobbs. She says that she will send Ellen to school, but adds... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Two: The Meeting of Mother and Daughter
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
As Linda prepares to leave, Mrs. Hobbs tells her “coolly” that Mr. Sands has given Ellen to her daughter, as “a nice waiting maid when she grows up.”... (full context)
Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Confession
Sexual Virtue and Sexual Abuse Theme Icon
Motherhood and Family Theme Icon
...but Ellen embraces her and tells her to stop speaking. She has already deduced that Mr. Sands is her father, and she says “he is nothing to me. All my love is... (full context)