Oprah's Favorite Passages from The Invention of Wings
This passage where Sarah realizes she's never going to be permitted to become a lawyer was striking on many levels. Her mother delivers harsh words gently. It was striking to me how quickly we've forgotten how far we've come as women. Even white women were slaves, they just didn't know it. Women had no rights. You couldn't own property. You were dependent on your father or on your husband for everything. There were so many things you couldn't be—in essence, you were a slave. A slave to society.
Since that day a year past, I'd got myself a friend in Miss Sarah and found out how to read and write, but it'd been a heartless road like mauma said, and I didn't know what would come of us. We might stay here the rest of our lives with the sky slammed shut, but Mauma had found the part of herself that refused to bow and scrape, and once you find that, you got trouble breathing on your neck.
I love this—we as readers get to witness the seeds of rebellion growing inside Hetty. This passage reminded me of Victor Frankel's A Man's Search For Meaning—it means your life has meaning.
Part TwoFebruary 1811-December 1812
I'd entered society two years ago, at sixteen, thrust into the lavish round of balls, teas, musical salons, horseraces, and picnics, which, according to Mother, meant the dazzling doors of Charleston had flung open and female life could begin in earnest. In other words, I could take up the business of procuring a husband. How highborn and moneyed this husband turned out to be would depend entirely on the allure of my face, the delicacy of my physique, the skill of my seamstress, and the charisma of my tête-à-tête. Notwithstanding my seamstress, I arrived at the glittery entrance like a lamb to slaughter.
I love the parallel narrative being built here, of slave life versus southern belle society.
My aspiration to become a jurist had been laid to rest in the Graveyard of Failed Hopes, an all-female establishment.
That is perfectly put. Again, this is a reminder that not that long ago, women couldn't aspire to most of the things they do today. They were slaves to their family's expectations, to society's rules.
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