17 pages 34 minutes read

Sojourner Truth

Ain't I A Woman

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 1851

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Important Quotes

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“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.”

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Truth’s choice of the word “children” is significant for multiple reasons. First, it immediately sets the tone of her speech, which is familiar and endears her to her audience. Truth addresses the audience as though they are all kin, helping her argue that women’s suffrage should be fought for by all. Second, this word choice establishes authority by implying that, as an elder, she is both wise and learned, and her opinion should be respected.

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“I think that ’twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.”

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Truth alludes to the complex civil rights struggles of her time. A political system dominated by white men was under pressure both from abolitionists and women’s rights advocates. Civil rights leaders of her time disagreed on whether both goals should be pursued at the same time. Truth, as a Black woman, sees the two struggles as inextricably linked.

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“Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place!” 

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By including her point of view, Truth directly refutes her antagonist’s argument that women are too weak to participate as equals in society. Truth aims to refute the popular stereotype of the era that only men are strong enough to lead society. Truth’s personal experience, by including the experience of being an enslaved woman, establishes that the category “women” is diverse, complex, and powerful.