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Glancing through the critical lens of Mary Louise Pratt, we can see different contact zones in Harriet Jacobs book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. An obvious is the difference between the lives of black and whites during slavery, and different zones lie underneath the skin and involve relationships and connections. Most eminent are the connections that Harriet Jacobs joined amid her vicarious servitude. We can see many contact zones in her book, for example, the general battle of oppression and freedom, her association with Mr. Sands, Mr. Flint and the readers.
The topic of contact zones lies in the purposeless battling among freedom and subjugation. Harriet Jacobs is in a consistent battle in physical, and mental domain. Pratt depicts the zones as “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as slavery.” Pratt highlights the fundamental issue with Jacobs, slavery. In this account of bondage, we see the social spaces, connections and battling that Pratt talks so articulately of.
First their social space is never sufficiently substantial. They are constantly held down and mistreated. Wherever life may take them they will always be in chains. Their masters on the other hand control whom they will see and know. In other words they will control their relationships. They are in complete domination of another person constantly being mistreated and used. A statement from Abraham Lincoln describers the third angle, the fight occurring, “Slavery is founded on the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it on his love of justice. These principles are in eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.”
To summarize, he portrays the fighting smoothly – constantly battling, never very still. The relationship between Mr. Sands and Jacobs is a prime example that falls under the contact zone. As we probe this connection among Jacobs and Mr. Sands, it is fascinating to inspect how this contact zone was made, why it was kept up for so long, and how this contact zone clashed with other contact zones and within itself.
The start of this contact zone was on the activity of Mr. Sands. He continually looked for chances to see Jacobs, and wrote letters to Jacobs as often as possible. His sensitivity and his aching to help her energized Jacobs and complimented her because she viewed him as a superior person and was to gain his attention meant a lot. It is intriguing to take note of that the contact zone among Jacobs and Mr. Sands happened outside the bounds of slavery; but it does not take away the fact that her being a slave had a lot to do with their relationship. Also, it was a companionship that wasn’t constrained upon Jacobs by subjugation, rather a consensual relationship from both sides.
Despite the fact that this relationship was not profoundly unbalanced like Jacobs and Dr. Flint’s relationship, Jacobs takes note of distance and social class between them, and we can see the conflict inside it while looking into the reasons that this relationship proceeded. In looking at Jacobs’ explanations behind proceeding with this relationship, we discover three intriguing reasons. Initially, she expressed “there is something akin to freedom in having a lover who has no control over you, except that which he gains by kindness and attachment.” So we see that Mr. Sands honeyed words and sensitivity had persuaded Jacobs it was a “great thing to have such a friend” in Mr. Sands.
Jacobs acknowledged rapidly what new potential outcomes this relationship offered with respect to exact retribution on Dr. Flint. She contemplated, “I knew nothing would enrage Dr. Flint so much as to know that I favored another; and it was something to triumph over my tyrant even in that small way.” Along these lines, we see that Jacobs hauled out of this relationship whatever she can for herself and utilized it for her leverage, which is justifiable in her situation. This is likewise clear in the third reason she specified for proceeding with this relationship. She clarified this reason in this explanation, “I thought [Dr. Flint] would revenge himself by selling me, and I was sure my friend, Mr. Sands, would buy me.
I thought my freedom could be easily obtained from him.” Now that we’ve looked at Jacobs perspective of this relationship through contact zones, let us move to the reasons Mr. Sands facilitates this relationship. In examining for Mr. Sands’ reasons the content does not talk plainly on this issue as it does for Jacobs point of view. Although, a perception can be made for Mr. Sands’ reasons in view of Jacobs’ responses and reactions. I think that it’s fascinating that a white, unmarried man would take such a great amount of enthusiasm for a youthful, African-American slave girl. She expressed, “it chanced that a white unmarried gentleman had obtained some knowledge of the circumstances in which I was placed. He knew my grandmother.”
At first, his reasons appear to be exclusively reliable and earnest as he endeavored to help Jacobs in her troublesome situation. In any case, Jacobs made no say of Mr. Sands taking interests in Dr. Flint’s different slaves. Wouldn’t Mr. Sands have acknowledged as Jacobs expressed, “He was an educated and eloquent gentleman; too eloquent, alas, for the poor slave girl who trusted in him.” One can envision how Mr. Sands could have utilized this further, bolstering his good fortune and spoke to Jacobs, who was 15 at the time, by regarding her as an equivalent individual and playing to her feelings.
Moreover, Jacobs expressed that “the wrong does not seem so great with an unmarried man,” and we discover later that Jacobs was a soon to be mother. Consequently, we can reason that Mr. Sands’ motivations were not absolutely true. There was clearly something more to his goals, conceivably even from the earliest starting point of their relationship. Might I venture to inquire? Could this be on the grounds that this poor slave girl was believed to be simple prey by the informed and expressive man of his word Mr. Sands? Since we have addressed Mr. Sands’ reasons, how about we proceed onward to how this contact zone caught and conflicted with other contact zones and with Jacobs’ ideals.
The greatest impact this relationship appeared to have is on Jacobs. In the wake of telling Dr. Flint that she would have been a mother, promptly she expressed, “My self-respect was gone! and now, how humiliated I felt!” We can see here that this relationship or contact zone conflicted with who Jacobs needed to be. She expressed, “I had resolved that I would be virtuous, though I was a slave. I had said, ‘Let the storm beat! I will brave’.” Another contact zone this relationship conflicted with is the one among Jacobs and Dr. Flint.
We see from Dr. Flint’s announcement to Jacobs, “‘you are my slave, and shall always be my slave. I will never sell you, that you may depend on’,” that this association with Mr. Sands exploded backward on Jacobs and drove Dr. Flint to something she had not anticipated. One of the advantages Jacobs needed to escape to freedom was her association with Mr. Sands as her opportunity. In any case, we see from that explanation that Dr. Flint was so irritated by this relationship that he would not ever offer her.
The following contact zone this relationship disturbed is the one among Jacobs and her grandma. At the point when Jacobs went to admit that she would have been mother to her grandma, Jacobs was requested to leave and shut the door on the way out “with a sound I never heard before.” She requested to see her grandma later in the story and she at long last came to Jacobs. Jacobs expresses that her grandma, “did not say, ‘I forgive you’; but she looked at me lovingly,” and felt sorry for Jacobs. Since we have now inspected the contact zone among Jacobs and Mr. Sands, let us investigate Harriet Jacob’s association with her owner Dr. Flint who mistreated her in sexual and emotional ways.
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