Stories of our history serve unique purposes. Each author draws from their own experience in order to teach a lesson to the reader. In doing so it seems that, many authors venture deep within themselves, exploring thoughts and feelings long left behind. This self-exploration not only has a purpose to the author and a lesson to the reader, but it also gives an insight to the developing emotions of a human being during the trials and tribulations of their story. With this in mind, Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, goes on such a journey. Her main goal in writing, she states, is to show the world the atrocities of slavery. This is the lesson for the reader and Jacobs" explanation of the past is her own self-exploration. It is the developing reasons for the story that give the insight into human emotions. Harriet Jacobs, knowingly or not, attempts to keep control of her life, give meaning to her experience, and shape her destiny as her life unfolds. .
Throughout the entire story Jacobs attempts to control her life to the furthest extent possible. At a young age, Jacobs did not know the differences between being white and black. As she matured she found out that there was a "peculiar institution" that controlled her life. She felt demeaned by the Dr. Flint and his wife, particularly his wife when Jacobs was younger. As she grew older Dr. Flint began to take an interest in her. Seeing as she was not beaten, her main goal was to gain control of her "love life." Without looking for love, Jacobs found a free colored carpenter who she had been "well acquainted with in childhood, and frequently met together afterwards." As soon as her lover's identity was known to the Flint's it was quickly ended. Mrs. Flint lashed out stating, "Do you suppose that I will have you tending my children with the children of that nigger?" "[Dr. Flint] sprang upon [her] like a tiger." After forbidding them to see each other he continued with his verbal punishment reminding her that "I have the right to do as I like with you, - that I can kill you, if I please.