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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Chapter 12, Fear of Insurrection Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
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Here one learns about the aftermath of Nat Turner's insurrection and how it affected the lives of Linda and the other slaves (and free black people) in her area. While the annual muster has already passed for the year, another one is planned. In a muster, the white men of the town and surrounding areas line up in military fashion and search the homes of the slaves and free Negroes for signs of resistance and conspiracy. Evidently, the annual muster is typically a reasonably painless procedure, because most of the slaves are not worried about it—many of them even look forward to it as a holiday. The muster proves to be horrific, however. Slaves' homes are destroyed. Men, women, and children are drug out into the street to be whipped and tortured. Property is looted.

Linda's family fares better than most since they have white friends who offer them protection. The poor white people who search the home of Linda's grandmother are clearly resentful that there are black people who enjoy a higher standard of living than they do.

They find one of Linda's letters and are alarmed that Linda can read. Since these poor white people cannot read themselves, they are forced to take the letter to the captain (the notorious Mr. Litch) to be read. The searchers are disappointed to find nothing incriminating written in the letter.

The muster continues for many days. After the town is searched, the Negroes in the countryside are subjected to the the same searches and persecutions.

Here, the author references a historical event that the reader is likely to be familiar with, and its ramifications on the life of common people. Since the narrative never mentions dates, this is the first time one is given a clear point of reference where one can determine the date of any of the events that are depicted in the book. Nat Turner's insurrection occurred in 1831.

This section contains 333 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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