From Slavery to Household Staple: American Literature and the Consumption of Black Women's Labor



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Introducing the Nurturing Black Woman trope, this thesis investigates the works of Harriet Jacobs, Toni Morrison and Harper Lee to discuss caregiving characters and their part in the Southern Home. By studying novels from different eras in America’s history, the evolution of how Black caretakers is depicted reflects the racial climate and tensions of their respective time. The work done by Black women, specifically mothers, has traditionally been used in literature as a means of support to the white family and society as a whole. However, the labor surrounding motherhood and domestic labor (such as cooking, cleaning, and child rearing) have a greater tax than expected and white expectations are pitted against Black lived realities through the analysis of this character trope. The inclusion of recipes and archival studies in food elaborate on domestic labor, rarely documented but fundamental to understand the influence of Black labor in America and its part in creating the image of the Home.



Literature, American