Traces the connection between slavery and the way in which black women fiction writers depict female characters and address gender issues, particularly maternity.
Using writers such as Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Pauline Hopkins, Toni Morrison, Sherley Anne Williams, and Gayl Jones, the author highlights recurring themes and the various responses of black women writers to the issues of race and gender. Time and again these writers link slavery with motherhoodtheir depictions of black womanhood are tied to the effects of slavery and represented through the black mother. Patton shows that both the image others have of black women as well as black women’s own self image is framed and influenced by the history of slavery. This history would have us believe that female slaves were mere breeders and not mothers. However, Patton uses the mother figure as a tool to create an intriguing interdisciplinary literary analysis.