Expectations of the women of the era, as stated in class discussions, resided in four arenas: piety, purity, domesticity and obedience. The conditions that the female slave lived in were opposed to the standards and virtues set by society. It resulted in the female slave being refused what was considered the identity of womanhood. It was another manner in which slavery attempted to eradicate the slaves' value of themselves. Jacobs continually struggled to maintain these female virtues. Her belief in the ideas of piety, purity, domesticity and is highlighted in her admiration of one rare, benevolent mistress,
The young lady was very pious... She taught her slaves to lead pure lives... The eldest daughter of the slave mother was promised in marriage to a free man; and the day before the wedding this good mistress emancipated her, in order that her marriage might have the sanction of law. (43)
Piety was one of the subscribed to virtues. However, in order for one to be pious and obtain religious insight, it would be necessary to read the Bible. This would be an obstacle for the overwhelming majority of slave women as illiteracy was prevalent, Jacobs wrote, ."..it was contrary to the law; and that slaves were whipped and imprisoned for teaching each other to read" (61). As Jacobs... [continues]
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