She begins her life like most slave children, fairly unaware of her position in society. On the surface, her life seems as normal as any other. She’s a child who plays, sees her grandmother regularly and who waits anxiously for her father to come home at night. But then she learns that she is enslaved, that her life is not her own. When she turns fifteen, her owner sets his sights on her sexually and she must make crucial decisions about her womanhood. After giving birth to two children and hiding in her grandmother’s crawlspace for seven years, she escapes to freedom.
Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl addresses the particular issues of being a woman and a slave. Few slave narratives focus on these specific details. Jacobs is writing about early Black feminism and bringing the question of Black female empowerment into the feminist conversation that won’t really accept it for quite some time.
Chapters 1, 2, 5, 10 provide an opportunity for the students to understand the early life of slaves and general life as an enslaved person, particularly as it relates to being a woman. Chapters 17, 21, 39, 41 helps the students see that the enslaved African was indeed an agent of his/her own freedom and that resistance was natural and common
Class 1 – Chapters 1, 2, 5 and 10
Class 2 – Chapter s 17,21, 39, and 41
A wonderful short novel by Graham Greene, Monseigneur Quixote, recasts Cervantes’ magnum opus in a way that captures much of the humor and pathos in a more modern context, as the adventures of a Roman Catholic priest and a communist mayor taking to the road together in Spain during the Franco years. The richly imagined characters and their conversations make it clear that the issues that drive Don Quixote’s idealistic quest are not raised only in books of chivalry. How do we live with a commitment to the ideals of a religious faith or a political ideology which, though noble, may not fit easily with and may have unfortunate consequences in the unforgiving world in which we find ourselves? What difference does friendship make in our lives?
Don Quixote has been an inspiration for many visual artists. Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali returned to the novel multiple times throughout his long career, creating sketches, paintings, and sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho, depicting important episodes in the book. A pairing of an episode with one of Dali’s works can lead to a stimulating discussion.
What details do students notice? What do his artistic choices suggest about his interpretation of the characters? To the extent that students are familiar with the story of Don Quixote, it is likely to be as it is filtered through the musical The Man of La Mancha. The musical has its own merits, and is framed by the interesting device of placing Cervantes on stage as a narrator, but of course it is impossible for it to capture much of the complexity of the book – and it alters the ending dramatically. Students may find it interesting to compare the two endings.