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Chappell, Jerry 1
Truth, Sojourner. “Ain’t I A Woman?” Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio. 28-29 May 1851.
Truth confronts the hypocrisy of the treatment of black women compared to the treatment of
white women as she asserts the rights of all women to be treated as equals to men. She uses
rhetorical questions, concrete imagery, and theological allusions. (40 words)
In “Ain’t I A Woman,” Sojourner Truth uses rhetorical questions, concrete imagery, and
theological allusions in her speech to the Women’s Convention in order to assert herself as an
equal to white women, who in turn are the equals of men. Truth’s rhetorical question is simple
and direct: Ain’t I a woman? By asking the rhetorical question, Truth appears to be subservient
to the men who are listening, but she is in fact stating the obvious – that she is a woman- and
ridiculing anyone who is incapable of seeing that or unwilling to accept it. To those who in tune
with her biting tone understand that she is dismantling the logic used to hold women back as well
as ridiculing the men who participate in the oppression. Next, she uses imagery to show her
strength and her femininity. Her arms have “ploughed and planted,” her could “eat as much as a
man,” and bore “thirteen children” to see most of them sold as slaves and when she when she
“cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me.” Truth juxtaposes her strength as an
equal to a man with her ability to give birth to show that she is an equal, she is superior. She
does all that a man can do, and then she gives birth. Finally, she undermines the theology of the
men by proving that “Man had nothing to do with Him,” meaning Christ. She does this in order
to show that men did not even take part in the creation of the God they use to hold oppress
others. In fact, men may be unnecessary. Through these tactics, Truth proclaims not only her
worth, but proves her superiority through her words and her actions.