17 pages 34 minutes read

Sojourner Truth

Ain't I A Woman

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 1851

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Essay Analysis

Analysis: “Ain’t I a Woman”

The title of the speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?,” encapsulates Truth’s central argument. At the time the speech was delivered, in 1851, women were said to be less capable than men and thus not deserving of the same civil rights. So, Truth outlines some of the things she did or accomplished, which equaled or exceeded any man, and then asks, “Ain’t I a woman?” In other words, a woman can do anything a man can, and she knows because she did it. She repeats the refrain, “Ain’t I a woman?” four times in the second paragraph of the speech to drive home the point that her capabilities make her worthy of equal rights:

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? (Paragraph 2)