Plight of Women in Song of Solomon, Life of a Slave Girl, and Push

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Plight of Black Women as Double Minorities - Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Song of Solomon, Push

Typically minority groups are thought of in the context of race; however, a minority group can also consist of gender and class. The struggles facing a minority group complicate further when these different facets of minority categories are combined into what is sometimes called a double minority. Throughout American history, African American women have exemplified how being a double minority changes the conditions of being a minority. In Reminiscences by Frances D. Gage of Sojourner Truth, for May 28-29, 1851, a speech by Sojourner Truth is recalled where she poses the question-"Ain't I a woman" (Lauter 2049). Truth speaks for women's rights in this speech, but her question becomes more interesting when applied to African American women because they move from being a double minority to a single minority with this statement. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Song of Solomon, and Push demonstrate in their African American female characters the impact of having a double minority status.

In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs depicts her struggle as an African American woman during slavery. As a female slave in her master's house, she was subject to her master's sexual advances. Jacobs explains her feelings about her master's desires and the struggle of female slaves in the following comments:

The felon's home in a penitentiary is preferable. He may repent, and turn from the error of his ways, and so find peace; but it is not so with a favorite slave. She is not allowed to have any pride of character. It is deemed a crime in her to wish to be virtuous. p. 363

Thi...

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...n American female writers are much more popular today than their male counterparts. Perhaps Sojourner Truth should not have posed the question, "Ain't I a Woman," because that still implies that the only move up for African American women is from a double minority to a single minority (Lauter 2049). Perhaps the real question is-Ain't I a Human?

Works Cited

Gage, Frances D. "Reminiscences by Frances D. Gage of Sojourner Truth, for May 28-29, 1851." Paul Laufer, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, vol 1, 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

Jacobs, Harriet Ann. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed. The Classic Slave Narratives. New York: Penguin Group, 1987.

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Penguin Group, 1977.

Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage Contemporaries/ Vintage Books, 1996.

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