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Table of Contents
- 1-Page Summary of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl
- Full Summary of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl
- Overall Summary
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
- Chapter 18
- Chapter 19
- Chapter 20
- Chapter 21
- Chapter 22
- Chapter 23
- Chapter 24
- Chapter 25
- Chapter 26
- Chapter 27
- Chapter 28
- Chapter 29
- Chapter 30
- Chapter 31
- Chapter 32
- Chapter 33
- Chapter 34
- Chapter 35
- Chapter 36
- Chapter 37
- Chapter 38
- Chapter 39
- Chapter 40
- Chapter 41
1-Page Summary of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl
The first section of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an introduction, which begins with the author explaining why she wrote her autobiography. She says it’s painful to talk about, but she feels that it can help people understand what life was like for slaves and therefore help end slavery. The second part is a preface by abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, who explains how Jacobs came to write this book and states that everything Jacobs writes about actually happened.
The book is written in first person and is narrated by a slave named Linda. She talks about her life as a slave, where she was raised with her mother and father who were relatively well off slaves. Her mother dies when she is six years old, and then she’s sent to live with the mistress of her father, who teaches her how to read. When this mistress dies, Linda gets handed down to another family that treats her badly and neglects her needs. Dr. Flint (the master) begins pressuring Linda for sex when she turns 16 years old after he notices how beautiful she is becoming. He tries many ways to get what he wants from Linda but all his attempts fail because of Linda’s wit and cunningness which outsmarts him every time until finally giving in at the end because of fear of being raped by Dr. Flint or sold away from Benny & Ellen (her children).
When Linda finds out that her children are going to be sold, she hatches a plan. She knew it would be impossible for the three of them to escape together, so she stays in the attic and hopes that Dr. Flint will sell Benny and Ellen instead of killing them like he did with other slaves. Mr. Sands buys back his children from Dr. Flint, but Linda is still stuck in the attic because there’s no way for her to get out without being caught by Dr. Flint or one of his friends who are always looking for her everywhere they go. Meanwhile, Mr. Sands marries another woman and brings Ellen (Linda’s daughter) to Washington D.C., where he becomes a congressman even though he promised Linda that he’d free all three of them someday soon after buying their freedom from Dr.’s hands as soon as possible.
After seven years in the attic, Linda finally escapes to the North by boat. Benny remains with Aunt Martha, and Linda is reunited with Ellen, who is now nine years old and living in Brooklyn, New York. Linda is dismayed to find that her daughter is still held in virtual slavery by Mr. Sands’s cousin, Mrs. Hobbs. She fears that Mrs. Hobbs will take Ellen back to the South, putting her beyond Linda’s reach forever. She finds work as a nursemaid for a New York City family, the Bruces (they treat her very well), Dr Flint continues to pursue Linda but she flees Boston after being reunited with Benny there. After a few years, Mrs Bruce dies so she spends some time living with her children in Boston where she enjoys freedom from racial prejudice. When Linda returns to Boston, Ellen goes to boarding school and Benny moves California with William -Linda’s brother. Mr Bruce remarries so she takes position caring for their new baby. Dr Flint dies but his daughter writes claiming ownership of LInda making her vulnerable kidnapping/enslavement because of The Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress
Emily Flint and her husband arrive in New York to capture Linda. Linda goes into hiding, but the new Mrs. Bruce offers to buy her freedom. However, she refuses because she doesn’t want to be bought and sold again; instead, she plans to follow Benny West (her husband) to California where they can start a new life together. She is devastated at being sold and furious with Emily Flint for buying her as well as the whole slave system in general. Even so, she says that Mrs. Bruce remains her employer when writing this book, which is why it’s important for readers of the book to know about what happened between them during their time together on their journey westward toward California after escaping from slavery on Mr. Shelby’s plantation near Louisville Kentucky. The two testimonials are from Amy Post (a white abolitionist) and George W Lowther (a black antislavery writer).
Full Summary of Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl
Linda Brent grows up in a loving family. She also lives near her grandmother, who buys her own freedom when Linda is young. When Linda is six, she loses her mother and has to live with the mistress of the house where she works as a slave. The mistress treats her kindly and teaches her about religion. Six years later, the mistress dies; Linda hopes that she will be freed in her will but instead goes to live with someone else’s family, which isn’t as good for her because they don’t treat slaves well there.
Linda’s life was very different from what she had experienced before. She and her brother had to work hard, there wasn’t much food for them, and their mistress treated them badly. Her grandmother tried to keep the children happy but things were about to get worse; William started getting angry at his mother’s restrictions and Dr. Flint began sexually propositioning Linda while threatening that she belonged to him.
Benjamin is enslaved. He runs away from his master and ends up in prison. His grandmother tries to buy him, but he escapes again before she can do so. She saves money for years until she manages to get her son Phillip out of slavery.
Linda was able to make her life in the Flint household more bearable, but as Dr. Flint’s sexual interest became obvious, his wife took out her jealousy on Linda. Mrs. Flint interrogated Linda about her interactions with her husband and forced Linda to sleep in a different room from them at night. Although she feared that Mrs. Flint might one day kill her, Dr. Flint continued to berate Linda for not “obeying” him sexually or otherwise pleasing him enough. Such situations were typical of Southern culture, where it was common for male slave owners to have many illegitimate children with female slaves and for their wives to exact revenge on those unwilling mothers by killing them or otherwise mistreating them so much that they died from illness brought on by stress and lack of food/sleep/medical care (which is what happened).
When she is fifteen, Linda falls in love with a free black carpenter. He wants to marry her, but Dr. Flint refuses to allow it and threatens the carpenter if he doesn’t leave. Moreover, Linda is afraid of having children with him because they would legally belong to Dr. Flint and be under his power as well; thus she breaks off the courtship out of fear that something bad will happen to both her and the carpenter. She focuses on caring for William instead while plotting an escape for them from slavery together.
Linda tells the story of a young runaway slave in her city who was locked inside a cotton gin until he died. Nobody cared about this man, and his master wasn’t punished for it. Slavery is especially hard on women because they are at risk of sexual violence from their masters and have no legal protection to stop it. This shows how slavery degrades not only slaves but also white society that allows such things to happen.
Dr. Flint decides to build Linda a cottage of her own outside the town, as he knows that without his wife in the vicinity she will be powerless. However, Linda is desperate and accepts Mr. Sands’ advances thinking that he’ll protect her from Dr. Flint’s wrath; even though it means sacrificing her sexual purity. She keeps this decision a secret from everyone except for herself and Mr. Sands until she becomes pregnant with his child; when she announces this news to Dr. Flint, he runs her out of the house saying “I had rather see you dead”. Her grandmother also disapproves of her actions but takes pity on her and allows Linda to stay at their home during the duration of her pregnancy by Mr. Sands so long as they keep it a secret from Dr. Flint who leaves them alone for that period of time while Linda gives birth to George Harris Jr., whom she names after one of Frederick Douglass’s heroes—George Washington Harris, an escaped slave who became famous for swimming across icy rivers in wintertime (which was extremely dangerous) just so that he could escape slavery and freedom-seeking slaves later followed suit in doing likewise (as noted by Harriet Tubman).
Linda is pregnant and very sick. She gives birth prematurely and struggles to stay alive for her baby, who she names Benny after an escaped relative.
Linda continues to live in her grandmother’s house and eventually gives birth to a daughter, Ellen. She begins to attend church meetings organized for slaves but becomes disillusioned when the pastor preaches that people should obey their masters. Linda feels that Christianity is hypocritical because it is used as a tool by the church to control slaves. Dr. Flint tries hard to convince Linda that she should continue living with him and not go back home, but he fails at this task.”
Linda is sent to the plantation after she refuses to sleep with Dr. Flint. Linda takes Ellen, but she gets sick and distressed by life on the plantation so Linda sends her back home. She’s separated from her children, who are going to be taken away soon as well, so she runs off into the night in order to escape slavery.
Linda hides at a friend’s house for some time. Dr. Flint sends patrols to search the city for her, and she has to hide in the swamp once because of it. Eventually, Linda confides in one of her white friends who is friendly with her grandmother. The woman agrees to help Linda escape from slavery by hiding her in her own attic until they can find an opportunity to leave together. While there, Linda hears that William and their children have been thrown into jail so that she will reveal herself; this forces Linda out of hiding sooner than expected.
In order to protect Linda from Dr. Flint, Mr. Sands buys her and the children, as well as Benny. They go live with Linda’s grandmother, who builds a secret crawlspace for them in the shed behind her house. However, it’s very small and dark and there’s no room to stand up or walk around. Linda sees her children playing outside but can’t talk to them because they’re too far away for their voices to carry into the shed. After several months of living like this, she gets sick more often than usual and has trouble moving about because her limbs are stiffening up due to lack of movement in such a cramped space. Her relatives come at night when no one is looking so they can help care for her better than if anyone were watching over them while they did it during daylight hours when people could see what was going on inside the shed where she lived without being able to move around easily or freely until someone helped treat her injuries that developed after staying in such an uncomfortable place too long without exercise or even fresh air let alone food!
Linda hid in the attic for seven years. She made a deal with Mr. Sands that he would free their children as soon as possible if she stayed hidden and didn’t make any noise. Mr. Sands did take William to Washington, but later on he brought home a new wife without Linda’s brother, who ran away from Boston before they could get there.
Dr. Flint threatens to take the children back, saying that he never sold them to Mr. Sands in the first place. Mr. Sands decides to send Ellen north where she will be a servant for his cousin; he tells Linda that she is free but her grandmother writes a letter telling her that Ellen has been “given” as a servant instead of being freed like she was told earlier. Linda wants both men out of her life and takes desperate measures to get rid of them both by trying to escape with her two children
A family friend helps Linda escape on a ship bound for Philadelphia. At first, her grandmother is against it and tries to convince Linda not to go. She gives the spot on the boat to another fugitive slave in the area, but when someone spots Linda in the shed before she can get away, she has no choice but to leave. After an emotional farewell with her grandmother and Benny (her brother), they set sail from North Carolina towards Philadelphia. The captain of the ship was kind and gentlemanly, as were his crew members, which made Linda feel safe during their journey across rough seas. When they arrive safely at their destination after days at sea, they stay with a black pastor named Peter who offers them food and shelter until things settle down for them in Philadelphia.
Linda finds that her daughter has not been sent to school as promised, but works as a servant and is anxious to come and live with her mother. Mr. Sands’s cousin, Mrs. Hobbs, reiterates that Ellen has been “given” to her. Linda seeks out Ellen in New York City and stays with a contact from the South while looking for her daughter. She soon finds that Ellen wants very much to be reunited with Linda, but she’s worried about offending the family because they know about Linda’s status as a fugitive slave.
Dr. Flint travels to New York in an attempt to find Linda and take her back with him. However, he tells Mrs. Bruce that she is a friend of his wife’s from the North who wants to visit Boston for some time without revealing that she is actually a fugitive slave. Meanwhile, Linda goes north on a ship with Benny’s father, William, and they reunite in Boston where Linda works as housekeeper for Mrs. Bruce while William helps Dr. Flint run his business there.
During the summer, Linda goes with Mrs. Bruce and her daughter to a rural vacation spot. When she returns from that trip, she visits Ellen and finds Mr. Thorne visiting there instead of Mrs. Hobbs’s brother, who is also in town for a visit. He probably knows about her escape from slavery so Linda worries he will tell Dr Flint where she is hiding out in Boston with Ellen and her two children as they both work at sewing jobs together to support their families.
In the spring, Linda is saddened to find that Mrs. Bruce has died. Mr. Bruce wants to take his daughter to meet her mother’s relatives in England and asks Linda to come as her nursemaid. Eager for more money, she agrees, but she’s surprised by what she finds there: little evidence of racial prejudice and a large middle class with access to education and opportunity—much better than conditions for slaves in America.
Two years later, Ellen prepares to go off to boarding school. Linda is going to tell her about her illegitimate paternity. She’s ashamed of herself but knows she must do it anyway. When she tells Ellen that her father is actually another man, Ellen replies calmly that she always suspected as much and doesn’t care at all about him. All she cares about is Linda, saying “all my love is for you.”
Linda’s daughter is now grown and has left to live with her father in the North. Linda returns to New York, where she works for Mr. Bruce’s second wife and their baby daughter. Around this time, new laws are passed that allow slave owners to recapture escaped slaves from free states. Linda feels increasingly unsafe, even when she goes out with the baby on walks around town. Her family warns her that Dr. Flint will be visiting New York soon, so she confides in Mrs. Bruce about her worries of being caught by him again and sent back South as his property or worse-off dead because he’ll think it was an escape attempt. Mrs.Bruce sends Linda away before Dr.Flint arrives, giving her a place to stay in New England until his visit ends.
After the latest scare, Dr. Flint dies. Linda feels that she should forgive her old abuser and is sad about his death, but she can’t bring herself to feel remorseful for him because he hurt her so much. Moreover, Mr. and Mrs. Dodge are still pressing a claim on Linda’s freedom, so she has to go into hiding again with Mrs. Bruce who offers to buy her and free her from slavery forever; however, Linda feels morally opposed to paying for freedom when it’s something that she already deserves as a human being (she shouldn’t have been enslaved in the first place). However, a lawyer secretly negotiates with Mr. and Mrs. Dodge on behalf of Linda’s employer who buys her from them at an exorbitant price because they want their money back after losing out on all of their previous investments due to having lost ownership of their slave named “Linda”.
Linda used to be a slave, but now she’s free. She’s content with her life and is working hard to buy a home for her children. While it may hurt to remember what she was like as a slave, thinking about it also brings back some good memories of the times she spent with her grandmother.
Linda Brent was born into slavery, but she didn’t know it. Her father worked as a carpenter for his mistress in exchange for money, and Linda lived with her parents and brother in a nice house that they owned. However, she wasn’t aware that her family could be taken away from her at any time because of their status as slaves.
Linda is also under the care of her grandmother, a strong and determined woman. The illegitimate daughter of a planter, Linda’s grandmother was freed at her father’s death and set off with her mother for St. Augustine; however, they were recaptured and sold back into slavery. She worked hard to gain respect from people around her in order to leave money for all of her children after she died. Even though she had little time on her own due to working so much, she still managed to make enough money selling crackers that when one of the masters needed some extra cash he borrowed it from her instead! Unfortunately, when another master died he left his estate divided among his own family members rather than giving any inheritance to the slaves who had been loyal servants their whole lives. This meant that many of Linda’s siblings were sold away never to be seen again by their mother or each other ever again.
When Linda was 6, her mother died. Her mother’s mistress promised to take care of her and keep her safe. She took Linda into the house with her and taught her how to read the Bible and sew. Although this was a happy time for Linda, she knew that it wouldn’t last long for an enslaved child because they are often mistreated or abused by their masters.
Linda’s mother dies when she is twelve. She worries about the future and hopes that her mistress will free her in her will, because of their relationship with Linda’s mother. However, this doesn’t happen, as slaves are auctioned off to other families regardless of how well they’ve been treated by their previous owners.
In her will, the mistress gives Linda to her five-year-old niece, Emily Flint. The family is upset and saddened because they hoped that she would leave them something in her will. However, they realize that it’s not fair for a woman who taught Linda to “love thy neighbor as thyself” didn’t actually recognize Linda as her neighbor. Nowadays, when Linda thinks about it all she tries to forget about this injustice and instead remembers how kind the mistress was towards Linda. Along with Linda many of Grandmother’s children were separated among the Mistress’s relatives despite their long faithfulness to them
Linda and William move into the house of their new owner, Dr. Flint. They are both sad about being slaves because they used to be free and had a father who taught them that no one can own another person. Their grandmother tries to make them feel better by telling stories but it doesn’t work because they’re too cold and unhappy in their new home.
A year later, Grandmother informs Linda that her father has died. She tries to comfort Linda by saying that the world is becoming evil and God saved her father from those evils, but Linda can’t accept it. Mrs. Flint refuses to let Linda go see her father’s body and instead makes her spend the day arranging flowers for a party. The Flints feel that Mr. Linden spoiled his daughter by teaching her how to think like a human being; they believe she should be content with what she has and not question their authority or status quo of society. A few days later, Linda sees him buried in an unmarked grave because he was too poor to have one of his own—another example of how the rich exploit the poor in this novel/society
Linda and William are both depressed because they haven’t been able to earn money. Linda tries to comfort her brother by saying that one day, they’ll have enough money to buy their own freedom. But he says he doesn’t want to pay for his own freedom; instead, he wants the right just given him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Flint is too stingy with food for them and barely feeds them anything at all; Linda relies on Grandmother’s help in providing her with good meals and clothes.
When Dr. Flint’s mother-in-law dies, he refuses to pay back the loan that Grandmother gave her. He also decides to sell her because she is well known in the community and people will object if he sells her. However, Miss Fanny buys Grandmother so everyone knows what happened to her and they can protest Dr. Flint for selling a free woman like Grandmother.
Although Mrs. Flint is a southern woman, she’s too lazy to run her own household and prefers whipping slaves instead. She goes to church every Sunday but spits in the food after dinner so that her slaves won’t eat it. Dr. Flint beats the cook when he doesn’t like his meals: for example, once he made her eat dog food because their pet got sick, and many times he separated the cook from her baby for an entire day.
Linda is a slave who has seen her master whip another slave for accusing him of being the father of his wife’s child. She also recalls seeing one woman die while giving birth to her master’s illegitimate child, and she heard her mistress say that the dying woman deserved to die.
The slave’s mother tries to comfort her by saying they’ll soon go to heaven, but the mistress says that there is no such place for a slave and his illegitimate child. The dying woman tells her mother not to react, saying God will have pity on them.
On January 1, Linda describes the practice of hiring day. Many slave owners rent their slaves to different owners each year; this is a time when the slaves are anxious because they don’t know who will be with them and where they’ll work. The slaves try to get hired by planters that have been good in the past.
Linda imagines the celebrations of free women, who can relax and kiss their children at new year’s eve. She contrasts this with slave mothers, who are anxious about their children being sold away from them on New Year’s morning. While a slave mother may be ignorant and degraded by her situation, she still has maternal instincts that cause her anguish when she thinks about losing her child forever.
One day, Linda sees a mother selling her seven children. She can’t even get the slave trader to tell her where the kids are going because he’s just trying to sell them for as much money as possible. The woman prays that God will kill her so she doesn’t have to be separated from her children. Slave owners also try to get rid of their elderly slaves and ones who have been worn out by working with different people all their lives on hiring days, which is when they sell them off.
As the years pass, Grandmother buys a home by making and selling preserves. She tells her enslaved children to pray for contentment, but Linda and Benjamin reject this argument because they think it’s not God’s will that they remain in slavery.
Linda’s grandmother can’t help her with the new problem she faces. Dr. Flint, who is “restless and craving” has begun to bother Linda constantly. He tells her that she must obey him and give up her will to him. William approaches Linda one day because he is upset about Nicholas bullying him all the time and threatening to whip him when he wins a fight between them.
Linda tells William to be forgiving, but she knows that she herself is not. She also knows it’s in their nature to question the motives of others instead of being open and accepting them as they are.
In February, Grandmother bought Linda a pair of shoes that she needed. However, Mrs. Flint didn’t like the noise from those shoes and forbade her to wear them again. Linda had to run an errand barefoot in the snow and was sick for days afterward. She thought about dying because she loved Emily and wondered if Emily’s feelings were sincere or not while thinking that Mrs. Flint would be glad when she died so they could get rid of her forever.
One day, William comes to Linda telling her that their Uncle Benjamin has gotten into a fight with his master. This can lead to punishment since he is a runaway slave. The next night, she goes to meet him at Grandmother’s house; he says that he’s running away before the punishment happens. She warns him of all the bad things that could happen if he runs away and tells him it would be better for him to stay where they are now. But, Benjamin decides he wants freedom more than anything else and leaves anyway on a ship heading out of town so no one will find out who he really is because there are posters everywhere with pictures of runaway slaves in them. He gets caught by the captain and put back into jail in New York City until his owner comes for him again.
At night, the family sneaks into Benjamin’s jail cell to visit him. His mother is very upset to see her son in prison; she tells him that he should trust God and be hopeful about his future. However, he says it’s impossible for a hunted man to think about God at the moment of capture. He thought about throwing himself into the river when he was captured, but decided against it because of his mother. Despite her pleas, he refuses to beg for forgiveness from Mr. Shelby or any other white person.
Benjamin’s master punishes him by keeping him in jail and covering his body with vermin. Grandmother has to sneak food and clothes into the jail for Benjamin. After three months, a slave trader buys Benjamin to sell him in New Orleans. While he is there, Grandmother starts saving up money and writing letters to friends in New York so they can help her buy back Benjamin before he gets sold off again.
Once Benjamin arrived in New York, he met his brother Phillip. Phillip was there on business for his mistress, but Benjamin encouraged him to leave and join him. However, Phillip did not want to abandon their grandmother alone. He suggested that she use her savings so the two of them could escape together with Linda if possible. After saying goodbye to each other, they never heard from Benjamin again.
Phillip tells his grandmother that he and Ben had been freed. However, she is more upset about the fact that Benjamin was sold to a new owner than happy for Phillip’s freedom. The next day, she buys Phillip and they celebrate by sitting around the fire at night with their family. They all say to themselves, “Those who want to be slaves should be.”
Linda had been living at the Flint house for a few years when Dr. Flint started whispering foul things in her ear and tried to seduce her. He was trying to get Linda into bed with him, but she ignored his efforts because she knew that he was just trying to corrupt the principles that Grandmother had taught her.
This is true of all slaves, who are powerless against the mistreatment they receive from their masters. Mistresses should protect young girls in such cases, but they often become jealous and treat them badly as well. As a result, slave women grow up to be “prematurely knowing in evil things,” seeing that their mistresses hate certain slaves or that beautiful women attract unwanted attention by men. While some women are too much brutalized by slavery to feel humiliated about it, many others do feel this humiliation most acutely.
Linda wants to go and talk to Grandmother for advice, but she’s scared of Dr. Flint’s rage. She also doesn’t want her grandmother to know about the pregnancy before they have a chance to discuss it; however, Linda knows that her situation would be hopeless if she lived on his plantation.
There is a girl who plays with her slave sister and another girl. The two girls are playing together, but the slave will be forced to drink from “the cup of sin” while the other girl grows up beautiful and uncorrupted until her wedding day. Linda wonders why free men and women don’t take action on issues like this in the North.
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Linda would rather her children grow up poor in Ireland than as slaves where they can’t pursue their moral values.
Mrs. Flint has known her husband’s character for years, and can use this knowledge to protect the slaves from him, but she is only angry at them. She watches him constantly, but he finds ways to get around it by sending Linda inappropriate letters or forcing her to fan him while he eats and listen to his language.
Mrs. Flint is increasingly angry at her husband and decides to move their daughter’s bed into the master bedroom so that she can be alone with Linda. When Mrs. Flint finds out, she forces Linda to swear on a Bible and ask if Dr. Flint has been having sex with her (prior to this, Linda had slept near Aunt Nancy).
Linda is sad for Mrs. Flint, who displays obvious grief and humiliation when she tells the truth about her life with Dr. Flint. Linda knows that even though Mrs. Flint will never be kind to her, she hopes for some protection from the woman because of their common condition as slaves in an oppressive society.
Linda is forced to sleep in the room of Mrs. Flint instead of her own, and she often has nightmares about being killed by her or hearing whispered threats from her. Linda worries that one night Mrs. Flint will kill her because Dr. Flint would never believe his wife had done it on purpose, despite the fact that he’s a father of eleven slaves who does terrible things to them all the time.
Linda, fearing for her life and safety, tries to escape from Dr. Flint by offering herself as a slave to Grandmother. However, she refuses since Linda rightly belongs to his daughter. He is always scrupulous about this matter despite having no moral conscience whatsoever when it comes to slavery. He threatens Linda with selling her away from the city or tells her that she’s ungrateful because of all he has done for her.
Linda is describing a terrible situation in the South where slave owners treat their slaves poorly. It’s surprising that Northerners are involved with this brutality by helping to hunt down fugitive slaves and allowing them to be recaptured. It’s also astonishing that they’re willing for their daughters to marry these planters, only to find out later on that these “children of every shade of complexion” were fathered by the planters themselves. These households are almost always corrupted by immorality and jealousy.
There are some exceptions to this trend. Linda knows two wives who forced their husbands into freeing their illegitimate children, and they earned the respect of their husbands by displaying nobility.
It’s not rational for slaves to fall in love, as they often get separated from their loved ones. Linda is a slave who falls in love with a free man who wants to marry her. However, she knows it’s impossible and that Dr. Flint won’t let her go or allow them to be married.
Linda goes to a white woman who is friends with her grandmother and asks her to convince Dr. Flint, Linda’s master, to sell Linda so that she can marry the carpenter. The woman does as asked but fails, causing Dr. Flint to become angry at Linda for falling in love with another man when he was supposed to be the one she loved most of all; he strikes her.
Dr. Flint reminds Linda that he has all the power, but she tells him that he doesn’t have any rights over her. This infuriates Dr. Flint and so he threatens to send her to jail or shoot the carpenter if he ever sees him at his house again.
For two weeks, Dr. Flint doesn’t speak to Linda because he’s angry at her for flirting with his son. He watches her closely and she feels oppressed by him. Finally, he tells her that they’re going to Louisiana together soon and she’ll have to go with him. She gets scared but thinks it won’t happen anyway because Nicholas is too busy with other things to take care of her.
Once, Dr. Flint catches Linda speaking to the carpenter in the street; at home he taunts her, asking when her wedding will be, and then screams curses at her. Even if Linda marries the carpenter as a slave, she won’t have any protection from Dr. Flint’s harassment or exploitation of her because slaves don’t have that right under law. Moreover, any children they had would belong to Dr. Flint since he legally owns them both as property and could pass them on to his family after death or sell them separately from him for cash money. Therefore, it would be better for the carpenter to go free where he can live a better life than with Linda given these circumstances.
Linda’s life is horrible. She has no friends and her only friend, William, may be sold away by Dr. Flint to punish Linda for running away. It’s hard to make plans when she is so closely watched and Grandmother doesn’t want them to run away because it’s too dangerous.
Slavery is a terrible thing. It can be hard for slaves to want to run away when they are told horrible lies about what life outside of slavery is like. One slave owner tells Linda that her friend literally died from starvation in New York and begged the man to take her back; later, Linda meets up with the same friend and finds out that this never actually happened. However, many slaves believe these kinds of lies because they have never known anything else but being a slave.
Linda says it’s important to teach slaves about freedom and dignity, but she thinks that is hard to do when the Free States allow fugitives to be thrown back into slavery.
Linda says that slavery has a negative effect on people’s moral compass. For instance, some slaves will let their masters have sex with their wives and daughters because they’ve been brutalized by slavery. This is not innate to the slaves’ nature, but rather due to their environment. Linda challenges her readers to imagine what they would be like if they were raised in similar circumstances.
People from the South often say bad things about Northerners. They believe that Northern people are not good because they help slaves escape and return to their homes in the South. Even though this is true, Northerners still cooperate with Southerners by hunting down escaped slaves and returning them to their owners. However, even if a person from the North says he supports slavery, he will not be accepted into Southern society unless he speaks out against it publicly as well. This is why many Northern transplants become cruel slave masters themselves when they move south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Some people use the Bible to justify their actions. They say that black people are intended for slavery, but this is wrong because all humans were created equal in God’s eyes.
Many slaves believe that some people in the North are against slavery. However, their knowledge is very confused. One woman tells Linda a rumor about how the “Queen of America” argued with the president for slave freedom.
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Linda talks about the other slave owners in the city. One planter, Mr. Litch, frequently kills his slaves and is wealthy enough to avoid punishment. He gives his slaves little food and encourages them to steal from others; he ties a man under a piece of roasting meat so that drops of fat continuously fall on him, burning him severely.
Linda says that cruelty is contagious in uncivilized communities. For example, when a neighbor of Mr. Litch punishes one of his slaves by forcing him to spend a winter night outside and naked, the slave soon takes on the cruel nature of his master.
The author discusses a female slaveholder who whips her slaves in the way that one would whip an adult male. She also tells us about a woman who is sold to Georgia after she slaps the face of her dead former mistress, despite being forbidden to do so.
A man named James tries to escape from his cruel master. He is caught and punished by being flogged and locked inside a cotton gin, where he has no room to sit up or turn around. The man dies of his wounds, and rats eat him before anyone notices what happened to him. His death goes unnoticed because masters are allowed to do whatever they want with their slaves.
In general, slaves were treated poorly. However, there was one young woman who owned a slave family and treated them very well. When the daughter got married, she wanted to free the family but they decided to stay because they had been so well treated for many years. The husband then sold some of the children and raped his wife’s sister (the eldest). Linda says that if it wasn’t for slavery this wouldn’t have happened because both would be better people without it.
The corruption produced by slavery is so widespread that it’s almost impossible to describe. The slave masters are so powerful and intimidating that no matter how well-raised the slaves are, they will succumb to their masters’ wishes eventually.
Meanwhile, the sons of slave owners grow up believing that it’s acceptable to abuse slaves. Sometimes, white women become sexually involved with enslaved men; this is considered scandalous, and any children they have are killed or sent away.
In short, slavery destroys the happiness of white families as well as black ones. They lose their moral integrity and become unhappy. However, slave owners are not concerned about that widespread moral ruin because they don’t care about the people living in slavery.
Dr. Flint has another plan to get Linda under his control: he’s building a house for her outside of town, so that she can be isolated from the people who are gossiping about him and Mrs. Flint’s jealousy issues. Linda promises herself that she won’t go to the new house, but she doesn’t know how to fight Dr. Flint off on this one…
Linda says she has to tell the reader about a shameful time in her life that she would like to forget. However, she can’t pretend that what happened didn’t happen or make excuses for her actions because of the sinful nature of slavery and how it made her mature at a young age. She admits that even though she knew what was happening was wrong, she still took action with “calculation.”
Linda still tries to appeal to the women who are pure and have been sheltered from childhood. She wants them not to judge her and think she is evil. If Linda wasn’t enslaved, she could have married a carpenter and lived chastely for the rest of her life. Now, she has two terrible options: marry a man that isn’t right for her or become pregnant with his child out of wedlock.
Another slave owner, Mr. Sands, was impressed by Linda’s performance and wrote to her. He treated her better than Dr. Flint did and he was more refined than him as well. She began to think that it would be less degrading for her if she became involved with a single man instead of a married one because she felt that she had no choice in the matter anyway since she was just a slave at the time.
Linda is aware that Dr. Flint will never build the house for her, so she begins an affair with Mr. Sands in order to get revenge on him and gain some protection from him as well. She plans to have children with Mr. Sands so that Dr. Flint won’t be able to sell them or control them like he does their mother’s life. Linda knows that having a relationship with another man seems morally wrong, but she feels justified because of all the horrible things Dr. Flint has done to her and other slaves over the years, which also helps make it easier for her conscience since she can rationalize that “the slave woman ought not be judged by the same standards as others.”
Linda is still anxious about her situation. She knows that her grandmother will be angry to find out that she’s having a child with another man, but Linda feels proud of herself for telling Dr. Flint that the house was finally finished.
Linda is afraid of Dr. Flint’s retribution, so she goes to her grandmother’s house. Mrs. Flint arrives and yells at Linda for having a child with her husband, and throws Linda out of the house.
Linda didn’t know where she was going, so she walked aimlessly for a few miles and collapsed against a tree trunk. She then decided to go to the house of a family friend, where she stayed for several days. At last, her grandmother came to fetch her and comforted Linda by telling her that it wasn’t her fault.
Linda goes home with her grandmother, who talks to Mr. Sands and convinces him to take care of their child. Dr. Flint comes by as well, scolding Linda for rejecting his advances and accusing her of behaving like a criminal. However, Mrs. Flint tells him that she won’t be allowed back in the house until she’s married, so he can’t punish her anymore.
Although it’s a relief to have some time off from the doctor, he still comes by and demands that she tell him who the father of her child is. He forbids her from seeing that man again and says he will never sell her to anyone else. This ruins Linda’s hope of being sold to a slave trader so she can be with Mr. Sands.
Phillip’s uncle returns from a business trip, but Linda is ashamed to see him. She thinks her grandmother was right when she said long ago that Linda’s parents have been spared the “evil” of the future. As Linda’s pregnancy progresses, she becomes sick and weak, and eventually delivers prematurely. At one point, she even wishes to die because of her misfortune. However, now that she has given birth to a baby boy, she must stay alive for his sake and prays for recovery from illness so that they can live together in peace and happiness. Dr. Flint continues visiting Linda ostensibly due to professional reasons but really reminding her that their son belongs to him as well as being concerned about how he will treat his new heir; however this does not stop him from molesting Linda during each visit until finally he rapes her after which he forces himself on top of her with his hands around both neck and throat while telling here what happens if anyone finds out about what happened between them before leaving without saying anything else or giving any indication whether or not it would happen again
Dr. Flint has William deliver his letters to Linda, and she reassures him that it’s not his fault. Dr. Flint tries to make their relationship seem inappropriate by having William watch them argue but soon realizes he needs him for work so brings him back home.
Benny grows up and becomes stronger. Linda, a slave owner, watches him grow up. She is glad he’s alive but sometimes wishes he would die so that he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore as a slave in the future.
Nat Turner’s rebellion breaks out soon after the slaves are told about Christianity. The city and country people assemble to put down this threat, but Linda can read and she knows that they’re going to be punished for their “crime” of not knowing how to read. She cleans the house in preparation for punishment from the soldiers who will ransack their homes if they find any evidence of a rebellion or revolt.
The lower class whites are excited to exert their privileges over slaves, without realizing that the rich slave owners keep them trapped in poverty. They don’t realize how terrible it is for women and children who were whipped without reason, robbed of their possessions or even destroyed during these riots.
The next day, a group of white men rudely enter the house and turn over all the furniture. They go through Grandmother’s possessions and even eat her preserves that she sells. When they find some bed linens and tablecloths in her trunk, they accuse her of stealing them. Linda also comes under suspicion when they find some letters addressed to her, but by this time she has spotted a white acquaintance outside who is standing inside the house for protection.
Although the captain of a band threatens to burn down their house, the family doesn’t suffer any material damages. However, as the night draws near and they get drunker and more violent, Linda is afraid to look out her window but sees people being dragged on the road at gunpoint. It’s amazing that such rabble presume to be administrators of justice in days after Nat Turner’s rebellion.
When Turner is captured, there’s a little less fear in the slave community. He was taken back to his master and some of the slaves were returned as well. However, they were not allowed to meet for church services or even visit each other on different plantations. Instead, they had to stand in the galleries of white churches while their masters took communion before them and then get theirs after that. The priest told them that ‘God is your Father’ when he gave out communion so it would make them feel like brothers rather than slaves.
After the rebellion, some slaveholders decide that their slaves should attend religious services. Linda is invited to go to a new Episcopal service for black people. The pastor reads from scripture that states “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters…” and in his sermon he calls the congregants rebellious sinners and says they will be punished by God if they don’t work hard or drink alcohol.
People are entertained by the church sermons, but they eventually get bored and switch to Methodist services. Linda feels that these people are more sincere Christians than Reverend Pike.
Once, Linda attended a Methodist service and sat next to a mother who was heartbroken after seeing her daughter sold away from her. The leader of the service was the local constable, who traded slaves for profit and whipped disobedient ones. He tried not to laugh when he saw how upset she was. He told her that God had decided this is what should happen, so it must be right. She began singing with other congregants; they sounded happy even though they were crying inside.
In the beginning, a white clergyman served as pastor for a church in Virginia. He was very harsh with the black members of his congregation and treated them poorly. Eventually, he left and was replaced by someone who cared more about those same people than himself. After that change occurred, the white parishioners became upset because they resented all of his attention being given to helping others instead of them. When this new pastor’s wife died, he freed their five slaves and moved away from Virginia.
Linda becomes friends with an elderly slave named Fred who wants to learn how to read. He’s serious about learning and Linda helps him become a quick learner. She warns him that this is now against the law, but he continues his quest anyway. There are thousands of people in America who want to learn how to read, but they’re forbidden by law from doing so because it’s illegal for black people in America to be taught how to read.
Linda says that missionaries should treat slaveholders the way they would treat Africans who are savages. She is saying that by selling children, abusing young women and disobeying God by harming their brethren, these people have sinned. In addition to this, whenever religious readers raise such subjects in the South, they are ostracized and driven away. Sometimes clergymen visit the South feeling that slavery is morally wrong but allow themselves to be persuaded otherwise because slaveholders show them how luxurious plantations can be and how slaves live in nice houses with good food. They also tell them about favored slaves who say they are happy being enslaved and intimidated into expressing contentment in their lot so as not to offend their masters or overseers. These men then return to the North having seen only a part of what’s going on there – nothing about the moral depravity it actually causes – knowing only what plantation owners want them to know.
It seems to Linda that there is a difference between “Christianity and religion” in the South. For example, Dr. Flint was religious but became even more cruel after he joined the church. He admitted to Linda that he joined the church for social reasons and encouraged her to do so as well because it would put an end to gossip about his character.
In response to this, Linda said she would be happy if she could live like a Christian. Dr. Flint told her that the best way for her to be virtuous is to obey him and not tell him what she wants and doesn’t want. She replied that this wasn’t what the Bible says. He exploded in rage, telling her that it was none of her business and saying that he was more knowledgeable than anyone else about virtue because he had read so much on it.
Linda is still living with her grandmother because Mrs. Flint doesn’t like Linda’s boyfriend, Mr. Sands. Dr. Flint also visits and scolds Linda for being involved with him, but she doesn’t care about his opinion because he has no power over her anymore. If it wasn’t for that fact that they’re both so stubborn, Dr. Flint would sell off Linda’s son to someone else in order to scare her into submission.
Linda gets pregnant again, but Dr. Flint is furious about it and cuts off all her hair as revenge. He comes to the house every day to insult her; Grandmother tries to defend Linda, but he only becomes angrier at this.
Linda gives birth to a baby girl, but is disappointed at finding out the gender because she thinks that slavery will be worse for women. She faints after Dr. Flint insults her and leaves suddenly before Grandmother catches him abusing Linda. If not for her children, she would want to die.
Linda’s grandmother wants the children to be christened, even though Linda knows her husband would forbid it. They sneak into a church and perform the ceremony while he is away on business. Linda imagines her mother bringing her own children for baptism; she was a faithful married woman, and had no reason to be ashamed of that. Linda is glad that she’s not alive now because of how different society has become in comparison to when her mother lived there.
Linda gives birth to two children, Benny and Ellen. She names them after her father because she is embarrassed that she can’t give them a husband’s last name. Her former mistress gives her daughter a necklace for the occasion, but Linda takes it off right away because she doesn’t want to chain her child down in any way.
In order to free Linda from Dr. Flint’s continued harassment, her family and friends try to buy her again, by sending a trader with the money to negotiate with Dr. Flint. However, he refuses to sell her because he thinks Mr. Sands sent the trader for Linda and that she wants him instead of being freed from slavery altogether. He tells her that no one can take away his ownership over her or make her leave him; she is bound to him forever as long as she lives under his care.
When Linda gets mad, Benny runs up and hugs her to protect her. Dr. Flint throws him across the room and she worries that he’s killed the boy. However, Dr. Flint grabs her again and prevents her from running to Benny; meanwhile, someone else comes into the room and breaks them apart so she can run to Benny.
A slave who’s been sold to a trader is spending the night with Linda’s family, but Dr. Flint comes in and orders her away. She ignores him because she no longer belongs to him and acts like she owns the place. He hits Linda until Grandmother scolds him for hitting her, telling him that he should go back home to take care of his wife and children instead of bothering them.
Dr. Flint is angry at Grandmother for allowing Linda to have an extramarital affair. He attacks her for this, saying that she’s not a good person and will go to hell when she dies. She tells him that he should pray so he can get rid of the sin in his soul before it kills him. Linda feels guilty about what she’s done to Grandmother and wonders if the old woman wants her out of there because of how much trouble she causes or if it’s just because Grandmother doesn’t like her anymore.
The doctor leaves her alone during the winter, but resumes his visits in the spring. He becomes jealous and enraged when she’s not home when he arrives. He tries to bribe Linda by telling her that she can be free of him and have an easy life if she agrees to live in a cottage he will build for her.
Linda rejects the offer. Dr. Flint tells her that if she doesn’t accept his proposal, he’ll send her and the children to work on the plantation. He gives Linda a week to think about it, but she is unsure what to do because if she goes back to working in the house with him, then he will have even more power over her than before.
Linda is also afraid that Nicholas Flint will abuse her and the children, since he knows his son’s character. She decides to save her kids or die trying. Linda tells Dr. Flint she’ll go to the plantation, but he gets furious and says Benny will be sent to the fields as soon as possible, while Ellen will be sold off soon enough.
Grandmother tries to help Linda by visiting Dr. Flint, reminding him of all the things she’s done for his family and offering to buy Linda back. She tells him that it would be better if he sent her away instead of keeping her with them because she needs a home where she can grow up in peace without any more abuse from Mr. Flint or anyone else.
Linda leaves the next morning, accompanied by Ellen but leaving Benny sick with her grandmother. At the plantation, she has to leave Ellen in the kitchen and work as a housekeeper preparing for Nicholas’ new bride’s arrival. She is upset about this sudden change of events. Nicholas brags to his neighbors that he will disabuse Linda of her “town notions.”
Linda works hard and doesn’t want to seem like a lady. She sees Nicholas beat the other slave children, while their mothers stand by powerless. It would be better for Ellen to die than live like that, Linda thinks. One day, Ellen sobs in the yard while Linda is working there. Eventually she runs away and Linda finds her sleeping under the raised foundation of the house later on.
The next day, Linda sends Ellen back to Grandmother without asking permission.
After three weeks at the plantation, Linda sneaks out of the house to see her children in town. She walks quickly and nervously back to her mother’s home. Her children wake up when she arrives and are overjoyed to see her again. On the way back from town, she hides behind a tree when patrols ride by on horses but is able to avoid them.
After another week, Nicholas’s great aunt visits the plantation. She is the woman who bought Linda at auction and freed her; she has visited Grandmother in subsequent years. Mrs. Flint hates that people from her family associate with Linda and Grandmother, but fortunately Miss Fanny has an independent fortune and can do what she wants.
Linda is happy to see Miss Fanny, especially when the old woman tells her that she cares about them and wants to help. She tells Linda that she will never feel at peace until they are dead and gone to Heaven. Linda tries not to worry her by telling her that everything’s fine with Grandmother and herself. However, she knows that there’s a way for her children as well as herself to escape slavery. She plans on escaping so all three of them can be free together.
After six weeks, the house is ready for Linda to move into. She’s allowed to go home on Sunday and spend time with her family. She visits her parents’ graves and promises to save Ellen from the trials she went through.
Linda feels shame that she hasn’t managed to be as pure and virtuous as her mother. She also feels guilty because she is still a slave, while her father has been free for years. However, when she passes the slaves’ meeting house, destroyed and decrepit after Nat Turner’s rebellion, it seems like her father tells her not to tarry until she is free. Her faith in God is renewed and strong again.
Linda is planning to hide until Dr. Flint gets tired of looking for her. She predicts that he will sell the children to Mr. Sands because he won’t be able to take care of them if Linda isn’t there, and she doesn’t think it would make sense to keep searching for her since she’s already gone.
Linda was packing when Grandmother came in and told her not to worry about an old woman like herself or leave the babies alone while Linda ran away from their father and hid out somewhere safer than home.
The grandmother scolds Linda for not being a good mother and tells her to stop depending on Mr. Sands for anything but to “stand by your own children, and suffer with them till death.” Unsure of what to do, Linda promises she will stay only if the children want her there. When the children climb into Linda’s lap, Grandmother pets them and accuses Linda of not loving them as much as she does.
Linda returns to the plantation where she was raised. Soon, a new bride arrives. The slaves are happy about this because they hope that Mrs. Flint will be kind and good to them. However, Linda has heard bad things about her character and thinks that she might be cruel like other young wives who want to show off their power by being mean to their slaves.
Linda pities the new wife because soon clouds will come over her sunshine as soon as she realizes how hard it is for women on plantations in general and how hard it is for black women in particular under slavery conditions.
Linda, a house slave at the time, has to wait on her master and mistress during dinner. She hasn’t seen her old owner for five years and is forced to run errands for them throughout dinner.
The new bride, Mrs. Flint, starts to display her authority over the slaves. She oversees the weekly distribution of meat to each slave and takes away a portion from an elderly man who cannot work anymore.
After a week, the older Mrs. Flint visits the plantation for a private conversation with her daughter-in-law. Linda assumes that they’re talking about her and that Mrs. Flint wants to keep Linda on the plantation at any cost. When she leaves, Linda hears her instructing her daughter-in-law to send for Linda’s children tomorrow so they can use them as leverage against Linda in order to tie her down to the plantation forever. Later on, a white neighbor tells Linda what she thinks is going on but says it’s all speculation because no one really knows for sure: They are bringing in the children so they can hold them hostage and force their mother back into slavery if need be.
Linda realizes that she needs to act immediately before anything happens to her children or herself. ”
One night, Linda knows she has to escape from the Flints. She finishes her chores and sneaks out of the house so that she can go to Grandmother’s house. When she gets there, she finds a family friend who tells her that once they find out about it, the Flints will want to get rid of her children and be willing to sell them off for money.
Before leaving for her friend’s house, the narrator looks over Benny and Ellen. They seem defenseless with a mother who cannot protect them and a father who is not as devoted to them as she is. She bids farewell before running into the night.
In the morning, Nicholas Flint asks his grandmother about Linda’s whereabouts. Dr. Flint is enraged to hear that she escaped and searches her house as well as every ship heading north. He then posts advertisements with a description of Linda and promising a reward if anyone captures her.
Linda spends too much time looking for a way out of town. She thinks she’ll never be able to leave, but then she hears patrols and runs into the swamp for safety. A reptile bites her and her wound gets infected so that she can’t run if it becomes necessary.
Dr. Flint has threatened Linda and her family, but she refuses to go back to him. Grandmother turns to a woman who is willing to help them out of this situation by hiding Linda in her house until they can send her north.
Linda’s grandmother gets word to her that she needs to be ready. Her friend Betty, a white woman’s cook, comes to get Linda on the specified night. In the house, Linda is given an attic room where only Betty and the mistress will know about her presence. They will care for her every day because they are both good Christian women who do not want Linda being sold down south as a slave like other slaves have been in this time period.
Linda is hoping that the doctor will sell her children soon, but he’s more interested in revenge. He throws William, Aunt Nancy, Benny and Ellen into jail and tells Grandmother she’ll never see them again until Linda returns. Linda wants to go to her family because they’re in jail, but as a slave she doesn’t have any power or freedom. She even receives a note from William urging her to stay strong and keep hiding.
At some point, Ellen gets sick with measles and recovers at Dr. Flint’s house. However, she cries so much that Mrs. Flint sends her back to jail after a few days. Linda is proud of her daughter for hating the prison environment, but she also hears that Mrs. Flint is threatening to sell her as soon as she’s found.
Dr. Flint told Grandmother that he knows where Linda is and will capture her soon. Betty, worried about this threat, has Linda hide under the kitchen trap door for the entire day in order to avoid Dr. Flint’s wrath. Another day when she hears his voice in the house while she’s sitting in the attic, she imagines him searching for her throughout the house and becomes terrified when a door opens; but it was only a white woman who tells her that Dr. Flint just came to borrow money from them so he can go search for Linda in New York City at an expensive cost with no success because they both know that he won’t find Linda there anyway since she doesn’t live there anymore after running away from him earlier on during slavery times before emancipation of African Americans occurred during Civil War time period.
Dr. Flint returns from New York without having found the children. He’s desperate to sell them, and he sends a slave trader to make an offer. Dr. Flint initially rejects the idea but at the last minute agrees to sell them, as well as William.
To avoid suspicion from Dr. Flint, the trader pretends to take Eliza and Harry out of the state and puts them in chains so that they will seem like slaves. Aunt Nancy says goodbye to Eliza and Harry as if she’ll never see them again because it looks real enough for her to think that this is a trick by the trader to get rid of them forever.
The Flints think that the trader has left town with their slaves, but he actually stops a few miles away. He releases William, Benny and Ellen to Uncle Phillip. The trader seems to think that the deception is a good joke and congratulates William on improving his lot in life by making him a slave owner. Having heard Linda’s story about how she was sold into slavery, he helps Mr. Sands without charging any money for it because “trading slaves is bad business for someone who has heart” according to him.
William and the children return to Grandmother’s house, where they have a secret celebration. The family is happy because of their success in escaping from Mr. Harris’ plantation. William tells them that he will buy their freedom as soon as possible, but for now they must stay at Grandmother’s home until things are safe for them again.
Meanwhile, Linda is alone in the attic. She hears music outside and thinks it’s children moaning. She sees shadows on the floor that look like Benny and Ellen; then she becomes convinced they’ve been kidnapped. The next day, she overhears a maid who says her kids have been sold to a trader but are rumored to still be in town; Linda wants to know if this rumor is true because she’s worried about them.
Betty sneaks into the attic with a smile on her face, telling Eliza that Dr. Flint’s children and brother now belong to Mr. Sands. She laughs at how angry Dr. Flint is going to be about this news.
Dr. Flint is furious with his mother and Phillip for helping Linda escape, but she doesn’t care because they’re not under his power anymore. For Linda, this is a season of joy and thanksgiving because her children will be free whether or not she survives the ordeal.
Dr. Flint had Uncle Phillip arrested because he was helping Linda escape. Mr. Sands works to get him out of prison, but while that’s happening, Linda is hiding under the kitchen floorboards at her house again so she can know what’s going on in the world outside of her hiding place. While walking over the boards, Betty mumbles about the news of the day and talks as though she were talking to herself so that Linda will hear what’s going on with other people around town who are looking for her. Dr. Flint has all houses searched by his men even after Uncle Phillip gets released from jail because they have nothing else to do since they don’t have any proof against him or anyone else in town except for maybe Betty since she helped hide Linda before when they tried to capture her before when she escaped from their home earlier that day.
Linda knows she must find a new hiding place because the one she’s in now is too dangerous. She can’t stay there any longer, and Betty says that it causes her “perpetual anxiety.” Linda also hears Jenny trying to get into the room while Betty isn’t home. That makes Linda feel like something must be fishy going on with Jenny, so she decides to leave that night.
Linda is supposed to meet her uncle, but she isn’t sure if it’s a trap. Her friend Betty gives her some clothes and hopes that she’ll soon be safe. When Linda leaves the house, Peter greets her with a boat ride out to a swamp where she must stay hidden until Uncle Phillip builds a hiding place for her. She has trouble sleeping because of bugs and snakes, so it’s hard not knowing when things will get better.
Peter and Linda have been in Hell for such a long time. Peter decides that they should escape from this place. So, he makes Linda disguise herself as a black person so she can walk through the streets of the town without being recognized by anyone.
Outside of Linda’s grandmother’s house is a small shed that has a tiny little attic between the joists and the slanted roof. Phillip made a trap door for access to this attic, which is barely big enough to fit in and has no room to sit up or any ventilation. Linda sleeps on a mattress in the cramped space, but she can hear her children outside when they wake up in the morning.
Linda says she would prefer to live in a garret (a small attic room) than be a slave. Even though slavery is not as bad as it could be, Linda still prefers the hardships of living in a garret over being enslaved.
The family visits Linda at night to bring her food and keep her company. She’s completely alone during the day, but she gets some fresh air through tiny holes in the wall that she makes by using a nail. Through these holes, she can see people walking on the street and playing outside with her children.
Dr. Flint goes to New York again, hoping he’ll find the clue that will lead him to Linda. Benny sees Dr. Flint in the street and tells him he wants his mother back because she’s been gone for a long time now. Dr. Flint threatens to cut off Benny’s head if he ever asks about her again or tries looking for her himself
Linda continues to struggle with her reading and sewing. She’s freezing in the winter, and she gets frostbite on her feet. People often gossip about her when they see her in the street. Dr Flint tries to bribe Benny and Ellen into telling him where their mother is living, but they refuse to divulge that information.
Linda sews clothes for her children during the weeks leading up to Christmas. She thinks about how slaves fear that they will be separated from their families on hiring day, which arrives just after Christmas. Linda wishes she could tell Benny that Santa Claus brought his presents because she is away and can’t be close to him.
Linda describes a Christmas tradition in the Caribbean. Groups of male slaves would dress up and go from house to house, singing songs and beating drums for money or rum. Young children also went out to watch them.
This Christmas, Grandmother invites the town constable over. She shows him around and tries to hide a slave named Linda from him. He’s accompanied by a man who does mean work for the slave owners and also pretends to be white. Linda despises this man even more than the constable because he is cruel but hypocritical about his roots.
As the weather gets warmer, Linda becomes increasingly impatient with hiding in the attic. However, she is unable to find a safe way to leave because her family has not been able to find any good routes of escape. She’s angry that Dr. Flint can go outside and enjoy the warm summer nights while she is trapped in an airless and hot garret. Sometimes she worries that she will die there but eventually time passes and it’s now autumn again and another winter is coming up soon.
Linda watches many scenes that show the lives of slaves. She sees a woman walking by, distraught after giving birth to a child who looks like her master and his wife sold them both to slave traders. Another time she sees a slave running away from police officers; her mistress ordered her to be whipped and she eventually jumped in the river and drowned herself. These types of incidents happen frequently but politicians like Senator Brown still tell Congress that slavery is “a blessing” for slaves.
Linda’s condition gets worse in the second winter. Her limbs are stiff, and she sometimes loses the ability to speak or even think clearly. The family tries to help her, but they can’t get real medical care for her. William finally creates a way for her to make a fire and is overjoyed when she cries tears of joy because of it.
Furthermore, Linda feels helpless when her family encounters problems. One day, she sees a dog attack Benny in the yard but is unable to come to his assistance. Moreover, Grandmother becomes seriously ill herself and Linda is unable to take care of her. Mrs. Flint won’t let Aunt Nancy leave her house to take care of Grandmother, but she pays a visit herself and gets Dr. Flint to treat the old woman at home so that it looks like she’s being kind-hearted without actually doing anything for anyone else. Linda is terrified by this because he might find out about what happens when people are sold away from their families.
Mrs. Flint leaves, and Benny’s mother notices that he’s injured by the dog. Mrs. Flint wishes she could tell his mom about it, but fortunately Benny’s grandmother gets better soon after this happens.
Despite Dr. Flint’s efforts to stop Mr. Sands from being elected, he is still voted into office that summer. Linda worries about what will happen to the children since they are still enslaved and if anything happens to him, his heirs will take ownership of them as property rather than free people.
The night before he leaves, Linda goes into the shed. Mr. Sands stops by briefly to see his kids and takes a risk by calling out from the shed. He walks away slowly as if trying to avoid suspicion but soon returns after realizing that she’s hiding so close to home.
Linda tells Mr. Sands that she doesn’t need help for herself, but she wants him to free the children from slavery. He promises to do so and hurries away. Linda is too weak from inactivity to get back into her garret on her own, so Grandmother helps her up there. The family is starting to worry that Linda will be permanently crippled if this continues, and Linda feels that if not for her children, she would be happy to die because of all the suffering they’ve endured at their master’s hands (and hers).
In order to further mislead Dr. Flint, Linda writes him a letter and asks Peter to post it for her in New York. She also sends a letter to her grandmother asking that she have her children sent to Boston because she is afraid that Dr. Flint will read the letter as well.
When Linda’s grandmother finds out what she did, she is worried that it will backfire on them. Aunt Nancy also knows about the trick and hopes it works because she doesn’t mind being a slave as long as she can help Linda and her children to freedom.
When Dr. Flint gets the letter from Linda, he comes to Grandmother’s house in triumph and is excited that she has finally responded. He sees this as an opportunity to lure her back home again and says that Uncle Phillip should go see her and tell her that Dr. Flint will free Linda if she returns south peacefully. He promises Ellen, who overheard his blustering, that they will be reunited with their mother soon. Grandmother is terrified because she thinks he will send people to find them so they can discover the trickery on him but instead he leaves for a few days out of town.
Dr. Flint refuses to help Linda return home and instead brags about writing a letter to the mayor of Boston, asking him not to look for escaped slaves in the North. Although Linda tries to calm her grandmother’s fears, she knows that the mayor will never bother looking for them.
It’s a relief to see Dr. Flint convinced that Linda is not in the area, as it takes some pressure off her family. Feeling slightly more secure, Grandmother lets Linda walk around in the shed at night so that she can recover some of the strength in her limbs. It worries her to know that if she ever has to escape quickly, she won’t be able to run very fast because of how weak and frail she feels after being locked up for so long.
Linda misses William greatly, since he’s gone with Mr. Sands to Washington. Later in the story, we learn that Mr. Sands has promised to free him but hasn’t specified a date for his return. Linda wonders whether William will attempt an escape from slavery before then or if he’ll remain loyal to Mr. Sands and Grandmother until they let him go free of his own accord.
The father of the family announces that he has a new wife. The family is anxious to see their brother, but they don’t hear from him. His mother prepares a big meal for his return, but he arrives in town without William. He sends a servant to tell them that he ran away with abolitionists and will be back soon because life in the North cannot be better than life with him.
Linda is upset that her brother has escaped. Although she knows it’s wrong to be jealous, she can’t help but feel bad for herself. She worries that Mr. Sands will be angry about losing money and take revenge by refusing to free the other children in his care.
One day, a neighbor named Aggie comes into the yard and asks why Grandmother is so upset. She says that William has run away. Ellen does not remember what her mother looks like or even if she can see her again. Benny asks when he will live with his mother again, because he misses her very much.
Aggie is happy to hear this news and tells Grandmother that she should thank God. All of her children have been sold away, but at least William has escaped. Linda admires Aggie’s ability to be positive in the face of adversity and vows to change herself for the better.
William’s master is kind, but he wants to be free. He will try to earn enough money so that he can bring his family north and create a home for them there.
Mr. Sands tells Uncle Phillip that William left him without a word to say, and he saw him carrying his trunk away. He was sure that the abolitionists had corrupted William, but he still thought that William would return someday.
William tells Linda later that he actually ran away on his own. He knew that Mr. Sands might not free him at any time and decided to take control of his life by running away without taking anything from the plantation. Mrs. Flint says she’s glad William is no longer there, and hopes Mr. Sands will sell her children in revenge for losing them like this.
Mr. Sands has a wife and two illegitimate children, but Mrs. Flint is threatening to tell her about his past indiscretions with an “artful devil” (a prostitute). Before she can do so, Mrs. Sands runs into Benny on the street and remarks that he’s quite handsome; Mr. Sands confesses that he is the father of Benny’s mother, but Mrs. Sands doesn’t mind because she wants to meet him anyway at their house later in the evening for dinner and plans to invite Mr. Flint as well without telling him why they’re meeting there or who will be present other than herself and her husband.
Mrs. Sands is worried about the children’s future, but she agrees to let them stay with Linda. Mrs. Sands’ sister likes Ellen so much that she offers to adopt her; however, Mrs. Sands wants to adopt Benjamin as well. When Linda learns of this offer, she becomes upset because it seems like a good idea for the children to be adopted by prosperous families who can provide them with a better life and education than they could have on their own; however, Linda also knows that slaveholders don’t take parental relationships very seriously and would probably sell the children at any time if they wanted or needed money or something else more valuable in exchange for selling their slaves. So even if they were informally adopted, Linda worries that someday her children will be sold away from her forever.
It is revealed that Linda, the mother of Eliza and Harry, has not given up on getting her children back. She visits Mr. Sands to remind him of this fact and he says she can do whatever she wants as it’s her decision. Apparently, he has freed the children from Dr. Flint but now Dr. Flint is trying to claim that since they legally belonged to his daughter Linda (as slaves), their sale was invalid so he still owns them because they were never freed at all!
Mr. Sands suggests that Ellen should go to live with his cousin in Brooklyn because it’s safer there and she can get an education. It’s a good idea, but Linda still feels like her children are caught between two masters because they’re moving away from their father and going to live with Mr. Sands’ family in New York City for the new baby of Mrs. Sands, who is also Ellen’s aunt.
Linda wants to see Ellen before she leaves. However, her family warns against it since Ellen is so young and may not be able to keep the secret. Linda insists that Ellen will be fine because she’s a strong character. In the dead of night, Linda sneaks into Ellen’s room and tells her how much Benny misses her and how scared he is about leaving his family behind.
Linda assures Ellen that they will all live together again in the North. Linda and Ellen sleep next to each other, not knowing if they’ll ever be reunited. In the morning, Linda goes back to the shed while Ellen kisses her good-bye and promises never to tell anyone about where she came from. When people ask about it, Ellen responds with composure.
When the Flints find out that Ellen has been sent away, they are very disgruntled. Mrs. Flint says Mr. Sands is a bad person for acknowledging his enslaved children and taking care of them, but she thinks it’s immoral for Linda to take her daughter back from him. Linda is astounded by this hypocrisy because she doesn’t understand how Mrs. Flint can think it’s moral for her to “steal” her own daughter when it isn’t okay for Mr. Sands to do the same thing with his own daughters.
Linda doesn’t hear from Ellen for weeks. She sends letters to Washington and Brooklyn, but no one responds. Linda feels that Mr. Sands has betrayed her by not keeping his promise to help her find Ellen. He had once spoken persuasively about helping with the search, but now he seems to have abandoned them both out of fear of what people might think if they found out how much money he made on selling slaves in the past.
After six months, a letter arrives from Mr. Sands’s cousin, Mrs. Hobbs. She says that she will send Ellen to school but also adds that her cousin has given Ellen to her as a maid. Linda is confused and disturbed because she doesn’t actually have any proof that Mr. Sands freed Ellen; it’s possible he gave her away instead of freeing her since slavery perverts all the natural feelings of the human heart.
Linda stops her story to tell the reader about Aunt Nancy’s life. At 20, she married another slave and had no legal standing. She slept outside Mrs. Flint’s room in case she was needed during the night of her own wedding.
Mrs. Flint and Aunt Nancy both get pregnant at the same time, but Mrs. Flint still treats her poorly. As a result, all of Aunt Nancy’s children die prematurely because she has to sleep on the floor and run errands in the middle of the night while taking care of Mrs. Flint’s babies as well as her own family. Eventually, fearing that she will also die from exhaustion, Mr. and Mrs. Flint let her sleep outside (in an outbuilding).
Nancy is in charge of the Flint house. She’s a quiet woman, but she encourages Linda to escape and save her children. Nancy frequently visits the shed to give Linda encouragement and good advice. Everyone in the family relies on her for guidance, even though they don’t realize it at first.
Six years after Linda moves into the shed, Nancy becomes ill and her mother returns to take care of her. Even though the Flints are upset at losing their maid, they’re touched by how much Linda loves her mother. Dr. Flint reminds his wife that he drove Linda away, but she says it was because of what he did to Nancy.
Linda was very sad to hear that her Aunt Nancy had died. Uncle Phillip tried to comfort her by saying she looked happy when she passed away, but Linda was still upset because Mrs. Flint made Nancy work all the time and never let her have children of her own. She now wants Nancy buried near herself in their family burial ground, but Mr. Flint’s family politely refuses the offer because they’re worried about being cursed for letting a slave be buried with whites.
Aunt Nancy’s funeral is a dignified and simple affair, attended by everyone in the family. Linda says that it might look like proof of the close relationship between master and slave, but she doesn’t think that it does justice to Aunt Nancy’s life or her suffering. Grandmother finds this especially hard to bear because she has seen how badly Linda is treated too.
Linda spends seven years in the garret, longing to escape and worrying about being caught. She also misses her children. Whenever Linda mentions escaping to Grandmother, the old woman becomes worried and upset.
Meanwhile, Linda has found out that an acquaintance, Fanny, ran away to avoid being sold and is hiding with her mother next door. Benny happened to catch a glimpse of her and told Grandmother about it. She warned him never to speak of it again.
One night, Peter comes to the house and tells Linda that he’s found a way for her to escape on a ship. She has two weeks to decide if she will go. Uncle Phillip urges her to go and even talks Grandmother into it. Linda gets ready for the journey, promising Dr Flint that once she arrives in the North, she’ll write him asking for money so that Grandmother can buy her freedom. Privately, Linda resolves not pay any of her own money since it is rightfully hers anyway
Linda was supposed to escape on a boat, but at the last minute she changed her mind. She decided that it wasn’t safe to leave after all and went back home with her grandmother. At the same time, another fugitive slave was killed (this happened before Linda’s story began). The man who did this was captured again by his master and killed him in a horrible way. Linda and her family were very scared of what would happen if they stayed in their house any longer, so they decided not to go anywhere for the time being.
Once Fanny is on the ship, it’s delayed for several days due to bad weather. Everyone was worried because they think that she’ll be discovered and taken back home. Grandmother called Linda out of the attic after she started panicking about how Fanny will get caught by someone else. Just then, Jenny comes in looking to buy some crackers from Grandmother but she doesn’t realize that Linda is there too.
Uncle Phillip tells Linda that she needs to get on the boat with Fanny. Peter, informed about the emergency, rushes to the wharf and finds that the ship is leaving; he rushes aboard and convinces the captain to wait for Linda until she arrives later in the night.
Linda is worried that Jenny will go to the Flints’ house before she leaves for Ireland. She asks Benny to be brought into the shed and he tells her that he’s always suspected there was someone hiding in there, but when Linda spent a night with Ellen, he knew it was her. He always tried to keep children away from the shed and kept watch for Dr. Flint so no one would find out about Linda or Ellen. Linda is amazed at his intelligence and maturity because of this behavior, which shows just how smart he really is.
Linda says that she is going north to find a better life. She tells Benny that if he behaves, God will bring them back together soon. Linda’s grandmother comes in and gives her some money for the trip. The family prays together before Linda leaves home forever with Peter.
At the wharf, Linda bids farewell to Uncle Phillip and Peter. She’s grateful that her friend risked so much for her, and she’s deeply upset that such an “intelligent, enterprising” man would remain a slave in a country that claims to be civilized.
Fanny is surprised to see Linda in the cabin. She has to explain where she’s been for the last few years, and the captain tells them not to make too much noise when other ships are around. Fanny and Linda share their anxiety about seeing their children again, but Fanny knows that hers have been sold into slavery on other plantations.
The trip goes well, but Linda doesn’t trust the captain or sailors. She thinks they could easily turn around and sell them if they wanted to. The women have to completely rely on their honor. The captain’s friendly character is somewhat reassuring; he tells her that his brother is a slave trader, but he dislikes it himself. When they reach the Chesapeake Bay and realize that she won’t be caught, Linda feels relieved.
The ship carrying Linda and Fanny arrives in Philadelphia after a long journey. They feel that they have been treated very well by the captain, who is also black. They are relieved to be free but also lonely without their families.
When the boat arrives in Philadelphia, Linda is helped by a respectable-looking black man. He turns out to be a pastor who treats her like an old friend and invites her to stay at his house. The captain is grateful for this help and bids farewell to the passengers.
Linda is excited to go on a trip through New York City. Mrs. Durham welcomes Linda into her home and impresses her with her education and manners, which Linda admires because she knows that Mrs. Durham has a lot of security in the city since she has children who are protected by law.
After dinner, Mr. Durham and Linda go for a walk. She tells him about her entire life story including the fact that she has two children out of wedlock. He is very sympathetic but tells her not to be so forthright with everyone because people might “treat you with contempt” if they know everything about your life (as in treat you badly). Linda says that God understands her trials and will forgive her; as soon as she can, she intends to be a good mother and live respectably
Later that night, a family friend arrives to talk with Linda. He’s an abolitionist and wants to help her get back to New York as soon as possible. They ask about how she escaped the plantation, but they’re careful not to pry too much into her personal life or ask if she’s married or has children. Linda appreciates their consideration in this matter. After some discussion, it is decided that Linda will stay at the Durhams’ house for a few days while arrangements are made for her return trip northward.
Linda goes to bed that night free for the first time. The next morning, she wakes up to fire alarms and learns that in her own city, slaves and black people have to carry buckets of water with them when there is a fire. However, Mrs. Durham’s daughter tells Linda that this custom doesn’t exist here.
The next day, Mrs. Durham takes Linda to Philadelphia and shows her the busy markets there. They also visit an art gallery where some of Linda’s portraits are on display. She is amazed at how different they look from what she’s seen before, but she appreciates that Mrs. Durham doesn’t judge her for it or act differently towards her because of it, despite knowing about her past as a slave in Georgia.
Mrs. Dursley: “What do you mean? You don’t expect us to go and live with ‘im?”
Mr Dursley: “No” (”Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, Chapter 16).
After five days, a friend accompanies Linda and Fanny to New York. The first-class compartments are for white people only, so they have to travel in the second class one. It’s full of crying babies and men smoking and drinking; “coarse jokes” abound, which make Linda feel sick.
In New York, Linda and her sister Fanny are confused by the train station. A shady cab driver offers to drive them around in a cart on his back, but they manage to get their trunks out of his hands and find better transportation. Fanny goes into a boardinghouse while Linda looks for another friend from the south who’s going to help her look for Ellen.
Linda’s friend takes her to Brooklyn, where Linda finds a woman she used to know from their area. The woman is with another girl who looks familiar but whom Linda can’t quite place. She soon realizes that the girl is Ellen, her daughter. They embrace happily, and Linda feels sad when she sees how poorly Ellen has been treated since leaving home.
Ellen has to run an errand for Mrs. Hobbs, but she tells her mother to come to the house the next day. In the morning Linda writes a letter to Mrs. Hobbs telling her that she just arrived from Canada and is wondering how best not to reveal that she’s been hiding out in New York with family friends because of slavery laws back home. She decides on saying that she just arrived from Canada so as not to raise any red flags about why she’s really there and also explains further by writing “I detest subterfuges” when it comes time for introductions at dinner later on.”
Mrs. Hobbs invites Linda to visit and speak with Ellen, her daughter. Linda learns that she’s been treated well but is anxious to live with her mother as soon as possible because she hasn’t gone to school and can barely read. It will be a long time before Linda has enough money for them to live together again, which makes her sad.
Linda is preparing to leave the Hobbs house. She overhears Mrs. Hobbs telling her daughter that Mr. Sands has given Ellen to them as a maid when she grows up, and Linda is furious at this woman’s disregard of Linda’s claim on her daughter. The Hobs have recently lost most of their fortune, so they are planning to return south with Ellen, who will be very valuable there as a slave. It seems like Mr. Sands has broken his promise to free the children when they turn 21 years old because he wants money from the sale of Ellen for himself and Mrs. Hobbs doesn’t agree with him freeing all three slaves due to financial reasons
Linda is determined to be free. She writes Dr. Flint and Emily Flint a letter asking them to sell her back to Grandmother, who lives in the South. Linda also seeks out William, who has moved to Boston on a whaling expedition. When she arrives there, however, she finds that he’s not around anymore because of his work with the whalers. She returns home without seeing him again and finds another letter from Dr. Flint reiterating his refusal to sell her unless she goes back down south first.
Linda is hired as a nursemaid for Mrs. Bruce’s baby, Mary. She is treated exceptionally well by her employer and given time to recover from the abuse she suffered in the past. Eventually Linda becomes comfortable sharing conversations with Mrs. Bruce and exploring her library during her free time.
Mrs. Bruce suggests that Ellen come live with her, but Linda is afraid to offend Mrs. Hobbs, who could easily tell Dr. Flint where she lives and cause more trouble for them both. Still, she’s unhappy about the situation because Mrs. Hobbs now demands that Linda pay for shoes and clothing and refuses to let Ellen stay with Mrs. Bruce in order to see an eye doctor (to solve a chronic illness). She thinks this is because Mrs. Hobbs is worried that if Ellen lived somewhere else, she would take her daughter away from her as well as Dr. Flint and his influence on their lives together.
Mary is a sweet girl, but she’s the daughter of William, who abandoned Linda and her children. The family has endured many hardships in the past few years, but they’ve always been able to rely on each other for support. Now that Mary has joined their family, it will be even better because they’ll have one more person to lean on when things get tough.
After some time, Linda receives a letter supposedly written by one of the young Flint sons. He encourages her to come home, where she will be welcomed with open arms and tears of joy. Moreover, he informs her that Aunt Nancy has died (not realizing that Linda was there when it happened), saying that she showed the family how to live a faithful and “Christian” life and how to die tranquilly. The letter concludes by saying that Dr. Flint will agree to sell Linda if she returns.
She gets another letter from a family friend. The friend warns her that the doctor is coming to get Benny, so she leaves for two weeks without telling Mrs. Bruce why and goes to Boston with Benny in tow. She wakes up one morning and there he is, just arrived.
Benny asks Ellen when she’s coming to live with them. He saw her in Brooklyn on his way up, and he said she looked sad. Linda spends the day buying Benny clothes and hearing about his trip.
Meanwhile, Dr. Flint visits New York and tries to find Linda’s whereabouts but fails. As soon as he leaves, she returns to her job with William in Boston. She enjoys her work and feels very secure in the Bruce household; however, when summer approaches she becomes afraid that one of the many Southerners living in New York will recognize her and reveal her identity as a runaway slave.
Linda accompanies a white family on a trip to Albany. She’s scolded by the black waiter when she sits at the table with them, and no one brings her any tea. The next day, Linda finds that they’re staying in a hotel in Troy. The landlord asks Linda to eat breakfast with his family so that he doesn’t have to seat her among his guests. In Saratoga Springs, NY, everyone is Southern and racist until they leave town for Lake George (where there were some Native Americans).
Linda, a black woman, is on vacation with her husband and daughter. She’s staying at the same hotel as Mr. Bruce, a white man. Linda wants to sit with him at dinner but he tells her that she can’t because of the color of her skin. Instead she sits with Mary in a special area for nurses who are feeding babies; however, when they arrive there they’re told by waiters that Linda must stand behind Mary’s chair while she eats so that other people don’t see them together. When Linda refuses to eat there and has food sent to their room instead, the hotel staff refuse to serve them altogether because Linda is black and therefore not allowed in the dining area where only whites are allowed.
The landlord tells Mr. Bruce that Linda is causing a problem because the black servants of other guests are dissatisfied with their treatment, and they feel like she’s getting special treatment. She feels that these servants should be dissatisfied with themselves for allowing themselves to be treated this way, and she believes if all blacks would behave in this manner it will eventually lead to less discrimination against them.
Linda returns to New York and visits Ellen. She knows that Mr. Thorne, Mrs. Hobbs’ brother from the South is visiting her grandmother, so she stays in the kitchen with Ellen. However, he wants to greet her and Linda’s grandmother insists that she go upstairs to meet him even though Linda doesn’t think highly of him because he has often borrowed money from their family and never paid them back. When Linda meets him however, he greets her very cordially and wishes her good luck for the future on behalf of his sister (Mrs. Hobbs)
Ellen is sad and Linda can tell. When she asks her about it, Ellen reveals that Mr. Thorne has been forcing her to buy liquor every day and serve it to him on the porch where he lives in a chair all day long. Later, when Linda sees Ellen again as an adult, she knows why Ellen is so unhappy—Mr. Thorne had put vile words into her head despite his claims of respect for Grandmother.
One Sunday, Linda goes to visit her daughter in New York. While there, she finds a torn-up letter from Mr. Thorne to Dr. Flint saying that he’s a patriot and lover of his country who must tell him where Linda is living. When the Hobbs children put the pieces together and showed their mother, she confronted her brother but he had already mailed a copy of the letter so soon left for Virginia as well as sent a copy to Dr. Flint
Linda is upset to leave her job because she wants to keep her plans for her children. She decides that she must go north and asks Mrs. Bruce for advice, who consults two lawyer friends about what Linda should do next. The lawyers advise Linda that she needs to go north as soon as possible, so William goes and picks up Linda from a friend’s house where she was staying while he got there. When Ellen returns home, Mrs. Hobbs feels guilty about sending the girl away in the cold weather without any warm clothes on; therefore, Mrs. Hobbs allows Ellen back into the house with some of her own shawls and hoods to wear until they can get more clothing together for Ellen later on in time.
Linda, William, and Ellen board a steamboat towards Boston. Normally black passengers are not allowed to sit inside the cabin but have to spend the entire journey on the deck. Linda is anxious to sit inside because she doesn’t want Ellen catching cold and also so that her status as a fugitive remains undetected by anyone else on board. She pleads with the captain and stewardess who eventually make an exception for her after inferring that she’s a runaway slave.
Linda arrives in Boston, and she feels happier than ever. She is finally reunited with both her children, and she sets up house with a friend who works as a seamstress throughout the winter.
In the spring, Linda is saddened to learn that Mrs. Bruce has died suddenly. Mr. Bruce decides to take Mary to see her English relatives and hires Linda to care for her during the journey. Leaving her children with friends, she sets off for London where nobody questions who she is or why she’s there. She feels like a free woman in an environment that respects women equally as men are respected.
When Linda traveled into the country, she saw families living in poverty and working for low wages. Despite that, their lives were better than slaves in America because they had protection from abuse. They could not be separated from their families or abused by their masters. Charities are helping them to learn how to read so that they can get more opportunities.
Linda is impressed by the humility of the clergymen she meets in England. They are unlike American pastors who treat their slaves with contempt and defend slavery. In fact, Linda doesn’t even realize that racial prejudice exists until she returns to America.
The ship approaches New York. Linda is afraid to return because she knows what awaits her there. Ellen is still learning, but Benny has left for a whaling voyage and Linda misses him desperately.
After a few years, Linda receives a letter from her former mistress. She has remarried and is now called Mrs Dodge. She tells Linda that she can return to the south and find a kind home with them. However, Mr Dodge will not allow Linda to purchase her freedom because he is very attached to her.
Linda knows that she could be legally recaptured, but she doesn’t think it will happen. She wants to invest her earnings in a home for her children and not give them back to the Flints after having worked for them all those years.
William and Linda have been living in Boston for two years. William wants to pay for Ellen’s education at a boarding school, which would be better than the local one she is attending now. Linda feels sad about it, but knows that this is best for her daughter. Now that Ellen will soon be leaving home, Linda decides to tell her the truth about how she was born. She dreads what Ellen might think of her, but doesn’t want someone else telling Ellen something that isn’t true or making up stories about how she got pregnant with her first child.
The night before Linda leaves, she tries to tell Ellen that Dr. Flint drove her into a great sin. However, Ellen stops her and tells her not to say anything more about it because she already knows who Mr. Sands is—her father (she deduced this from the fact that he never spoke or touched her as he did his white children). Nowadays, she doesn’t think of him at all because of how much love she feels for Linda.
Some time after Ellen leaves for school, Linda receives a letter from William inviting her to join him in establishing an abolitionist reading room in Rochester. She is excited and agrees to do so. However, the project fails after a year. During this time she stays with Isaac and Amy Post who believe in “practical Christianity” which teaches people how they can live together as brothers and sisters despite their differences.
William decides to move to California, and he takes Benny with him. Ellen is doing well at school; everyone is very kind to her, especially when they learn that her mother was a fugitive slave. Meanwhile, Linda returns to work for Mr. Bruce who has remarried and had another baby. The new Mrs. Bruce proves a loyal friend of Linda’s because she hates slavery as much as the first Mrs. Bruce did but also because she respects Linda for being able to support herself after all the troubles she went through in Kentucky.”
The abolitionist movement suffers a setback in the form of the Fugitive Slave Laws, which allow anyone to capture escaped slaves and return them to their owners. Many families move out of the city or are torn apart when one spouse learns that the other is an escaped slave. This law is one reason why William moved to California and Linda stayed inside as much as possible, using back roads so she wouldn’t be caught by people trying to recapture escaped slaves.
One day, Linda meets Luke. He used to be a slave in her city; however, he escaped and is now living free in New York. He tells her that his former master was cruel but also disabled so that Luke had no choice but to obey him.
Luke tells Linda that he plans to escape from slavery. He had previously stolen money and hid it in an old pair of pants, which his master later gave him as a hand-me-down. Luke doesn’t feel guilty about the theft because he worked hard for his master without being paid.
Linda receives another warning that Dr. Flint is trying to capture her. She confides in Mrs. Bruce, who helps her escape the city with her baby by suggesting she take the child because it will make them less suspicious and if they’re caught, they’ll have to give the child back and Mrs. Bruce might be able to help Linda get released from captivity.
One of Mrs. Bruce’s relatives scolds her for risking herself by helping Linda escape, but she says that she would rather be imprisoned than have Linda taken from her home. She sends Linda to New England where a senator who is sympathetic to the cause helps hide her for a month. Then he returns her to New York City.
Even though Dr. Flint has died, Linda continues to feel anxious. Meanwhile, it’s clear that Grandmother is approaching the end of her life and she hopes they will meet in heaven. She wants Linda to be a good mother and teach her children Christian values. Linda wishes there was some way to see her grandmother before she dies but knows it’s impossible.
A few months after this, Linda’s grandmother writes to her again. Dr. Flint is dead and she hopes that he has found peace with God. Linda thinks about the many ways in which Dr. Flint has hurt Grandmother and how she forgives him for those things even though she herself does not forgive him for his actions or feel any sympathy toward him now that he is dead.
Linda is still in danger. She hears that Mrs. Flint wants her daughter to get back the slave she lost, and Mrs. Dodge’s husband is desperate for cash so he can pay off his debts; they’re both looking for Linda. Linda always looks at the newspapers to see if any new people have arrived in town, and she sees that Mr. and Mrs. Dodge have come to New York City from Vermont with plans of selling Linda back into slavery again, just as soon as they find her!
Linda sends a friend to visit the Dodges in their hotel. She asks her friend to find out about her family back home, but he refuses because Linda is trying to buy freedom for herself and his family. Young Mrs. Bruce encourages Linda to leave the city, but she won’t run away anymore. Outside, she hears church bells ringing and thinks of how hypocritical it is that people preach from the Bible while allowing slavery in America.
Soon, Ellen convinces her mother to leave the city and travel to New England. Linda writes her with an offer to buy her freedom. However, she is reluctant about this idea because she doesn’t want herself or any of her children treated as property. She begins negotiating with Mr. Dodge for a price that will allow them all their freedom back.
Linda is surprised to find that she has been sold in New York, which is supposed to be a free state. People living during the future times will probably be shocked about this and think it’s unfair. Even though Linda treasures her freedom, she hates looking at the contract that bought it for her.
Linda is relieved that she will never have to hide or escape again. She remembers how her father and grandmother tried to buy her, but failed. They would be happy for her now.
Linda’s grandmother lives long enough to hear that Linda is free before she dies. Soon after, Uncle Phillip also passes away. It surprises Linda to see an obituary for him in the newspaper because it is usually only given to white people.
Linda is happy that Benny and Ellen are safe both from slaveholders in the South and “white people of the north.” She still wants to create a home for her children, but she’s content with staying at Mrs. Bruce’s house until then. It was painful for Linda to remember her life as a slave, but she finds peace by remembering Grandmother, which brings back memories of happiness.