3-Comparison of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs Final

Frederick Douglasse's narrative seemed familiar to me, but not for the obvious themes of slavery and/or enslavement. Looking back to Harriet Jacob's narrative, a similar feeling had touched me deeply. The reason does not directly include Douglass, but his mother.

The intensity of a mother's love for her child is truly a gift and cannot be substituted or cultivated. In Douglass's narrative, we feel that through this quote:

"I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night. She was hired by a Mr. Stewart, who lived about twelve miles from my home. She made her journeys to see me in the night, travelling the whole distance on foot, after the performance of her days work. She was a field hand, and whipping is the penalty of not being in the field at sunrise, unless a slave has special permission from his or her master to the contrary." (768)

Harriet Jacob's mother also confronted times of trial and discord, whereas her immeasurable love for her children illuminated through her words. As if seeing your child enslaved,isn't enough torture, it is compounded by the ordinary traumas of childhood as this quote illustrates:

"I left my grandmother's with my youngest child. My boy was ill, and I left him behind. I had many sad thoughts as the old wagon jolted on. Hitherto, I had suffered alone; now my little one was to be treated as a slave." (1523)

Giving up your child when he is sick is difficult enough, from a mother's point of view. A mother is born to care for, serve, give comfort, safety and love to her children; during times of sickness, a child's needs increase. The following passage shows Jacobs' love for her children, and how she has her child's best interest always in mind, knows what is best for her sick child, but having to do her best with what little resources she has:

"The next morning the old cart was loaded with shingles for town. I put Ellen into it and sent her to her grandmother. Mr. Flint said I ought to have asked his permission. I told him the child was sick and required attention which I had no time to give."(2025)
Once again, a mother's love shines through. In this final quote, Jacobs' love is disclosed by her desperate attempt to get home and visit her children:

"I had been three weeks on the plantation, when I planned a visit home. It must be at night, after everybody was in bed. I was six miles from town, and the road was very dreary. I was to go with a young man who, I knew, often stole to town to see his mother. One night, when all was quiet, we started. Fear gave speed to our steps, and we were not long in performing the journey. I arrived at my grandmother's. Her bedroom was on the first floor, and the window was open, the weather being warm. I spoke to her and she awoke. She let me in and closed the window, lest some late passerby should see me. A light was brought, and the whole household gathered round me, some smiling and some crying. I went to look at my children and thanked God for their happy sleep. The tears fell as I leaned over them." (2025)


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