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Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century$
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Nazera Sadiq Wright

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040573

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040573.001.0001

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Moving the Boundaries

Moving the Boundaries

Black Girlhood and Public Careers in Frances E. W. Harper’s Trial and Triumph

Chapter:
(p.118) 4. Moving the Boundaries
Source:
Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century
Author(s):

Nazera Sadiq Wright

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040573.003.0005

This chapter offers a reading of Frances E. W. Harper's novel Trial and Triumph, serialized in the newspaper Christian Recorder in 1888–1889. Trial and Triumph, believed to be an autobiography, tells the story of a black girl who comes of age in an urban city in the North in the post-Civil War years. The protagonist rejects marriage and overcomes numerous losses in her early life, charting her own course and becoming a professional woman who travels south to educate the black masses. Harper's text was written with the goal of promoting change within the homes of black families. This chapter examines what material from her own life Harper included in her story and what kind of preparation for the future she presented for northern black girls in the 1880s. It also considers interiority and the issue of race as themes of Trial and Triumph and concludes by assessing Harper's vision of the potential opportunities for black girls who establish themselves in activist careers before they marry.

Keywords:   marriage, Frances E. W. Harper, Trial and Triumph, Christian Recorder, autobiography, North, black girls, interiority, race

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