Sea Captain's Wife Essay

853 Words May 4th, 2014 4 Pages
The Price of Middle-Class Dignity In the nineteenth century women of dignity and grace married men who could provide enough money so that the she could “go housekeeping”. Marriage wasn’t a bond of unity and love, in most cases it was an agreement of sorts that the groom would provide stability to his bride and she intern would provide meals and a clean home. Eunice’s life did not go according to the plan that she or anyone else had imagined for a respectable, middle-class New England woman. In contrast she did transect many of the stereotypes for low-class, immigrant women.
As a child in the 1830s Eunice had little idea that her life wouldn’t live up to the status quo in New England society. Her mother, Lois, had led a fairly normal
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(Hodes66) With her sister’s family separated, working in the mill alongside the Irish, and her own father abandoning her it is no wonder why Hodes believed Hattie wanted to distinguish herself away from the scorned Irish. (Hodes67) Although Eunice found herself among the weavers, in a highly skilled and best paid position saved mainly for the literate Yankee women, Eunice did not stay in the drab mill for more than two months. (Hodes70) The self proclaimed “Alabama widow” still longed for the day when she could live on her own land with her entire little family. (Hodes63)
During the war Eunice found herself at rock bottom. Having moved back to New England with her in-laws and apart from her son, with a new baby girl and with her husband in the Confederate army Eunice made ends meet by weaving hats and domestic work, one of the vilest of all work offered to women just above prostitution. (Hodes136) Yet again she found herself among the lowest of the low: the Irish and African Americans. Her job for Captain James Sperry paid mainly in meals that would keep her and her children alive while money went to paying for rent. (Hodes134) After news of William’s death Eunice spoke openly about suicide and the exhaustion she felt took a physical toll on her health.
It is unknown how they met but the now widowed Eunice Richardson Stone married newly divorced William Smiley Connolly on November 3, 1869. (Hodes200) This

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