Yet, the polemic of the novel often distorts our perception of the heroine, driving the focuses from the multidimensional nature of a really existing human being to her reactions to the conditions of her slave life. It is preferable to analyze Harriet Jacobs’ (Linda Brent’) personality with the help of psychology.
Linda’s childhood was happy and serene till she was six. Born in a family of beautiful and intelligent mulattoes, she “was so fondly shielded” that she never dreamed she was “a piece of merchandise, trusted to them for safe keeping, and liable to be demanded of them at any moment” (11-12). The death of her mother was the first blow. Then she learnt she was a slave. Yet, Linda did not realize the entire sense of the word for the following six years. She was taken to the house of her mistress, the foster sister of her mother, who treated the girl well and taught her to read and write, though it was forbidden by law. Though the mistress tried to replace the girl’s dead mother, she did not keep her promise to give freedom to the girl and her brother. This was a bitter truth poisoning the girl’s perception of the mistress. I would give much to blot out from my memory that one great wrong. As a child, I loved my mistress. and, looking back on the happy days I spent with her, I try to think with less bitterness of this act of injustice. While I was with her, she taught me to read and spell. and for this privilege, which so rarely falls to the lot of a slave, I bless her memory (16). These lines convey the inner conflict, which Linda continued experiencing even as a grown-up. On the one hand, she understood that that her mistress behaved like most of whites, that she, Linda, was only a kind of a doll for the woman, who played with her without really caring of her. On the other hand, the mistress was Linda’s substitution of the dead mother, and Linda strove for happy recollections of her childhood,