Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a slave narrative. It is also an autobiography and an example of didactic literature.


Linda Brent (the pen name of Harriet Jacobs) is the narrator as well as the autobiography’s protagonist.

Point of View

Linda Brent narrates her life story in the first person.


The tone of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl shifts between passionate, outraged, defiant, sarcastic, and sentimental.


The story is told in the past tense

Setting (Time & Place)

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is set in the pre-Civil War years, mostly during the 1820s to the 1840s. It is set in an unspecified Southern town, New York City, Boston; and—for a short time—England.


Anecdotes about female slaves enduring sexual abuse and losing their children foreshadow Linda’s experiences.

Major Conflict

Linda Brent struggles to protect herself from her lecherous slave master and is torn between her desire to run away from him and her need to protect her children.

Rising Action

Dr. Flint refuses to sell Linda to Mr. Sands and banishes her to his plantation. Aunt Martha tries to talk Linda out of running away. Linda discovers that her children will soon be broken in as field hands.


Linda runs away from the plantation and goes into hiding, leaving her previous life behind and taking the first step away from slavery.

Falling Action

Dr. Flint throws Linda’s children and brother in jail. Linda tricks Dr. Flint into thinking she is living in the North. Mr. Sands promises to free their children but then breaks that promise.