In Harriet Jacobs" portrayal of her life as a slave in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, she explains in great detail the pain and abuse she experiences as a slave. In Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, he voices his opinions on slavery. Some of the incidents Harriet illustrates are considerably supportive of Jefferson's opinions, while other incidents are contradictory. .
Harriet Jacobs is born as a part of a family of slaves. When her mistress dies, her new owner becomes the mistress" niece. Since the niece is only three years old, Harriet's actual owner is the father, Dr. Flint. When Harriet is a young teenager, Dr. Flint begins to pervert her rights. He leaves notes for Harriet, which are violating and deceiving. They include Dr. Flint's plans of what he wants to do to Harriet. Although Harriet is literate, she pretends that she cannot read the letters. She sends them back to Dr. Flint, but reads them first for her protection as a distinct portrayal of her power. Dr. Flint also whispers foul words in Harriet's ear that make her very uncomfortable. The letters and whispers are both signs of a sexually abusive relationship. Thomas Jefferson indicates in his writing that the relationship between a master and a slave can be abusive in nature. Also, Jefferson reveals that the master and slave relationship is "a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other"(14). He is also wary that the children seeing these actions will end up repeating them further down the road. According to the incidents Harriet Jacobs is explaining, Jefferson's prediction is correct about the abusive slave treatment being passed on through the next generation.
Continuing with Harriet's story, she requests to marry a free black man. Dr. Flint viciously refuses her plea. To disrupt Dr. Flint's fight for sexual victory over her, Harriet becomes very close to an unmarried white lawyer, Mr.