Literary Analysis: Slave Narratives



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Literary Analysis: Slave Narratives

Slave narratives capture the voices of American slavery and reveal daily life as it was experienced and remembered by the slaves themselves. Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. When read together, these narratives offer a more comprehensive view of slavery, allowing readers to explore some of the most compelling themes of slave life, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief.



In a well-organized multi-paragraph essay, discuss the themes explored in the slave narratives Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.

Introduction:

  1. Grabber (1 sentence)

  2. 2-3 sentence summary/background of the issues explored in the narratives

  3. Transition towards thesis

  4. Analysis Set-up: 2-3 sentences introducing the shared themes between the two narratives

  5. Thesis Statement (1 sentence)

Body Paragraph #1: Examine the theme explored in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (use the quote chart and theme statement completed in class)

  1. Topic Sentence (use the theme statement you wrote in class)

  2. Speaker + Situation + Quote + Significance

  3. Transition sentence

  4. Speaker + Situation + Quote + Significance

  5. Wrap-up/Transition Sentence

Body Paragraph #2: Examine the theme explored in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (use the quote chart and theme statement completed in class).

  1. Topic Sentence (use the theme statement you wrote in class)

  2. Speaker + Situation + Quote + Significance

  3. Transition sentence

  4. Speaker + Situation + Quote + Significance

  5. Wrap-up/Transition Sentence

Conclusion:

  1. Restated thesis (in DIFFERENT words than introduction) with a conclusive tone (1 sentence)

  2. Offer insight/reflection on what you have discussed in your essay

  3. Universalize (compare to other situations –apply knowledge to the present)

  4. Clincher – relate back to grabber



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