Essay on The Confined Voices of Female Slaves

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The Confined Voices of Female Slaves

Slave narratives provide a first-hand experience on slave lives and reveal the truth about slavery. Through the writing of narratives, slaves hoped to expose the cruel and inhumane aspects of slavery and their struggles, sorrows, and triumphs. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, slave narratives were important means of opening a dialogue between blacks and whites about slavery and freedom. Some slave narratives were crafted to enlighten white readers about the realities of slavery as an institution and the humanity of black people. Today, slave narratives are one of the few reliable sources for the study of slave lives.

Many female slave narratives indicated that gender was an
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Slaves had no control over their own fate, and therefore spent each day in fear of the day to come. Their fear of the unknown became a crucial reason why women attempted to unify the slave community. Despite this instability, the family became a central part of a slave's life and women played a significant role in its development.

Domestic work was an opportunity for female slaves to enrich themselves by taking up skills that could benefit their families. Women did domestic work to keep themselves, their family, and much of the slave society healthy by providing additional clothing, food or other life-giving materials. These responsibilities were in some ways a joy to female slaves, since they "offered a degree of personal fulfillment." One slave woman, Mary Colquitt, remarked that she and her grandmother and mother had often stayed up late sewing clothes for the children, saying, "Dey done it because day wanted to. Dey wuz workin' for deyselves dem." Female slaves took a lot of pride in their work, not only to please their masters, but also for their own personal satifaction.

One of the most important roles a woman played during the age of slavery was that of bearing children. One way a young female slave could make it possible for herself to stay with her family was by getting pregnant at an early age. Masters often refrained from selling women that demonstrated fertility. Annie L. Burton described in her narrative
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