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The Virtues of ExitOn Resistance and Quitting Politics$
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Jennet Kirkpatrick

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635392

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635392.001.0001

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Exit and Solidarity

Exit and Solidarity

Fugitive Slave Narratives

(p.69) 3 Exit and Solidarity
The Virtues of Exit

Jennet Kirkpatrick

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines several narratives written by American slaves who escaped captivity prior to the Civil War. It argues that the accounts of former and fugitive slaves are animated by a particular notion of leaving, one that is at odds with the orthodox notion of exit and its emphasis on individual autonomy. Narrators use their own flights from slavery to expose the continued suffering of the enslaved. In this way, narrators deflect attention from themselves and their personal experiences and focus it on the plight of their people. Their accounts reveal an abiding connection with Those they left and serve to illuminate the hardship, misery, and injustice of their lives. Read in this way, these narratives suggest a conception of exit that is linked to suffering, solidarity, and communal concerns. This is particularly clear in Harriet Jacobs’s account, which gives insight into the ways that gender and race can influence the act of leaving and how it is conceptualized.

Keywords:   Slave narratives, Solidarity, Gender, Race, Community, Suffering

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