Narratives of Resilience and Resistance 

Resistance to being considered property


One element of the book I found so moving that we didn't talk about last night was how Linda (Harriet Jacobs) spoke so passionately against being considered property. The last chapter was especially powerful when she did not want Mrs. Bruce to purchase her because it was an admission that the Flint and Dodge families had in fact owned her and because the purchase would reward them for their mistreatment of her: "In a few days one came from Mrs. Bruce, informing me that my new master was still searching for me, and that she intended to put an end to this persecution by buying my freedom. I felt grateful for the kindness that prompted this offer, but the idea was not so pleasant to me as might have been expected. The more my mind had become enlightened, the more difficult it was for me to consider myself an article of property; and to pay money to those who had so grievously oppressed me seemed like taking from my sufferings the glory of triumph. I wrote to Mrs. Bruce, thanking her, but saying that being sold from one owner to another seemed too much like slavery; that such a great obligation could not be easily cancelled; and that I preferred to go to my brother in California" (Ch. XLI). This line really stands out: "to pay money to those who had so grievously oppressed me seemed like taking from my sufferings the glory of triumph," yet Mrs. Bruce goes ahead and purchases Linda, then gives her her freedom. She is grateful and relieved to be free at last, but did Mrs. Bruce do right to go against her wishes in this matter?

By the way, I have a playlist on Spotify you might want to check out. My name there is Ronosaurus Rex and the playlist is "From Misery to Music: Slave, Field, and Prison Songs." While collecting these songs, I did not try to be historical. If I found a more recent recording, I preferred that version, for instance Odetta singing "No More Auction Block for Me." I also included more recent songs, such as "Queen of the Fields" from Twelve Years a Slave. Still, I hope this playlist shows how music was a coping mechanism for those past injustices. Hope you like it.


I guess I hadn't signed on. This is Ron Richardson, by the way.