Throughout slavery, myths were created about African American women. These myths of yesterday have tainted the image of the African American woman today. These myths include two major ideas, the first being that all African American women are perceived as more promiscuous than the average white woman. The second myth is that black women are virtually useless, containing only the capabilities of working in white homes and raising white children. These myths caused these women to be degraded in the eyes of others as well as themselves.
Harriet Jacobs, Toni Morrison, and Sapphire are three African American female writers who have greatly impacted the progress of "black womanhood." Through their works, they have successfully dispelled the myths created about black women. In Sapphire's Push, Morrison's Song of Solomon, and Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, womanhood is defined in ways that have destroyed these myths. As seen through these literary works, womanhood is defined according to one's sexuality, spirituality, beauty, identity, relationships, and motherhood.
In her writings, Sapphire attempts to grab her audience and bring them into a world that for many is an unfortunate reality. Through her work, she attempts to address what she believes are some of society's major issues while defying the myth of the impure and useless black American woman.
Push is an intense work, both heartbreaking and frightening. Clareece Precious Jones is a sixteen-year-old heroine who would have cherished the option of purity. Precious is a study in abuse. Continually raped by her ...
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Linda, Precious, Ms. Blue Rain, Pilate, and Ruth are characters of strength, pride, and purity for the African American woman. They have overcome harsh realities and survived with dignity and grace. Through these women; Jacob's, Morrison, and Sapphire defy the myths placed upon the African American woman. They open our eyes to the "truths" of the world, and have provided a window to a world otherwise unknown to many.
Brent, Linda. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The Classic Slave Narratives. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Penguin Group, 1987.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Introduction. The Classic Slave Narratives. Ed. Henry
Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Penguin Group, 1987. ix-xviii.
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: The Penguin Group, 1977.
Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1996.
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