This study investigates a linguistic analysis of two selected Afro-American literary works; Incidents in the life of a slave girl: written by herself (1861) by Harriet Jacobs and Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave: written by himself (1845) by Frederick Douglass. The main reason for choosing this idea backs to the researcher’s desire to investigate the language of the slave authors in expressing their own suffering in slavery. In addition, this research attempts to examine how gender affects the author’s selection of a specific type of process to represent his experience. To analyze these selected slave narratives, systemic functional grammar, transitivity system in specific, is used as the analytical model to make an effective and comprehensive analysis.
The research reveals that gender differences can affect one's language use by selecting specific type of processes and circumstances in representing his personal experience in life. Furthermore, systemic functional grammar is an effective and suitable tool of analysis that helps people to understand the language of the nineteenth century Afro-American slave writers. This is clear through examining transitivity choices in expressing their own sufferings under slavery system.
This research is designed into six chapters as follow:
Chapter One (Introduction) introduces a general idea of the research topic. It handles the following points; research methodology, its problem, its objectives, some major terms related to the current study and the presentation of the two Afro-American narratives.
Chapter Two (Theoretical Framework) is divided into two sections: section one tackles Halliday's systemic functional grammar theory and its three meta-functions. Section two illustrates Halliday's (2004) and Thompson's (2014) transitivity system and its three major components.
Chapter Three (Transitivity choices in Harriet Jacobs' narrative) applies Thompson's (2014) method of analysis on eight chosen extracts, concerning the narrator's suffering in slavery, from Harriet Jacobs' Afro-American narrative Incidents in the life of a slave girl: written by herself (1861).
Chapter Four (Transitivity choices in Frederick Douglass' narrative), as the previous chapter, handles also the application of Thompson's (2014) method of analysis on eight chosen extracts, dealing with the author's suffering under slavery system, from Frederick Douglass' autobiography; Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave: written by himself (1845).
Chapter Five (Results and Comparison) summarizes the findings of the research and draws a comparison between the two narratives in the light of how gender affects the authors' language in presenting their experience by the frequency of transitivity components.
Chapter Six (Conclusion and suggestions for further studies) handles the conclusion of the research in addition to recommendations for other researches.