Linda Brent's Expectations Of White Womanhood

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Even though Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs) was expected to fulfill the expectations of white womanhood, she was not able to because of the setbacks she encountered, which include preserving her purity for her future husband, accepting pieties, staying submissive to the man in charge, and maintaining a safe domesticity. According to Barbara Weller, “Piety was the core of woman’s virtue, the source of her strength” (Weller. 152). Linda Brent had a hard time keeping this outlook because she justified that God would not let Mr. Flint sell her children or cause them harm unless He were not real or wished for a negative outcome. As stated by Brent, “O my Child! Perhaps they will leave you in some old cabin to die” (Jacobs, Another Link to Life). She…show more content…
Slavery prevented Brent from fulfilling the expectation of white womanhood by being restraint from preserving her purity. She believed that baring a white man’s child would mean she could be bought and taken better care of, along with her child at the time. As stated by Brent, “My strongest weapon with him was gone” (Brent, The New Tie to Life). If she were to have not been a slave, she would have been able to keep her purity. According to Brent, “The painful and humiliating memory will haunt me to my dying day” Brent, A Perilous Passage in The Slave Girl’s Life). She regrets going against God’s words, but had to give away her purity in hopes of freedom. In reference to Welter, “Woman must preserve her virtue until marriage and marriage was necessary for her happiness. Yet marriage was, literally, an end to innocence” (Welter, 158). Not being able to live up to what the North had in mind for white womanhood, meant that she was deemed unworthy of happiness just for the fact she tried to free herself by giving up her virtue. Linda Brent was also prevented from the high expectations of preserving her purity due to Dr. Flint pressuring her countless times. As stated by Brent, “When I found that my master had actually begun to build the lonely cottage, other feelings mixed with those I have described” (Brent, A Perilous Passage in The Slave Girl’s Life). She was hinting at an occurrence between Dr. Flint and herself, where it seems that he was pressuring her into giving him her purity. It was hard for anyone to stay pure if they were always coerced or even forced to engage in any sexual
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