Sojourner Truth’s Speech Ain't I a Woman

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1990 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Words: 1990|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Sojourner Truth Outline
  2. Introduction
    Connecting to the Audience
    Rhetorical Devices
  3. Sojourner Truth Essay Example
  4. “Ain’t I a Woman” Analysis
    Connecting to the Audience
    Rhetorical Devices
    Works Cited

Sojourner Truth Outline


  • Introduction to Sojourner Truth's speech "Ain't I a Woman"
  • Mention of its historical context and significance
  • Statement of the essay's purpose: analyzing the effectiveness of rhetorical strategies in the speech

Connecting to the Audience

  • Ethos: Discussion of how Truth uses her personal experiences as a former slave to connect with the minority in the audience
  • Pathos: Examination of how Truth employs emotional appeals to connect with mothers, Christians, and men in the audience
  • Emphasis on specific examples and quotes from the speech

Rhetorical Devices

  • Analysis of rhetorical devices used by Sojourner Truth, including imagery, simile, biblical allusion, anaphora, and hyperbole
  • Explanation of how each device contributes to the overall impact of the speech
  • Emphasis on the use of repetition with "And ain't I a woman"


  • Recap of the effectiveness of Truth's rhetorical strategies
  • Summary of the speech's success in delivering its message and motivating change for women's rights
  • Final thoughts on the significance of Sojourner Truth's speech in history

Sojourner Truth Essay Example

In the speech, “Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth, talks about the inequalities women and colored women faced during the 1800s. It is a famous speech because of the impact it had for women at the time trying to get equal rights as men. By analyzing the way she uses rhetorical strategies, I will determine if her speech was successful or not. Sojourner Truth uses personal experiences to emotionally connect with the audience, especially with mothers and the minority. She also uses repetition rhetorical questions, and figurative language throughout her speech. Lastly, she uses biblical references to connect with the Christians in the audience.

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“Ain’t I a Woman” Analysis

During the 1800s it was a very hard time for women, especially African American women. There was slavery, unfair conditions, job discrimination and no rights whatsoever for women. In 1851 Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist helped women to get the rights they deserved. She was born into slavery in 1797 and died November 26, 1883 at age 86. Before her death, she became one of the most important people during the women’s rights movements and the civil war. In 1826 she escaped slavery with her infant daughter sparking the beginning of a new chapter in her life. In 1828 Sojourner Truth made her mark as the first-ever black woman to win a case against a white man. This case to free her son from slavery made her out to be a very respected and admired person.

After that she moved to the countryside, claiming God wanted her to speak her story. She made many famous speeches throughout her time, even recruiting black troops for the Union army during the Civil War. In 1851 she joined George Thompson, an abolitionist and speaker, on a lecture tour where she made her most famous speech in Akron, Ohio. She was asked to speak because she represented the minority. She also motivated African Americans who were slaves or are currently slaves to speak up. She was a powerful example to all women because she was an ex slave, a mother, and a preacher. In the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention her speech “Ain’t I a Woman” consisted of equal rights for women, including African American women. She gave this speech hoping it would help all women finally get the rights they deserved. Some constraints could have been to not bad mouth white men too much or keep it short and straightforward. Her audience was widely ranged from locals to people from different countries. All races were present and even newspaper capturers. The purpose of this essay is to determine how successful Sojourner Truth was in using rhetorical strategies in her speech.

Connecting to the Audience

Ethos: By using ethos she uses her credibility as a slave to connect with the minority in the audience. She speaks from experience and gives them examples by telling them how she was beaten and treated. “…Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns…” she says, “…and bear the lash as well!…” She talks about working and how when she was a slave she would be hit and there are marks on her body to prove it. She also uses her credibility as a mother by giving insight into her life. She states “I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery…” By stating this, she connects with the moms in the audience.

Pathos: Sojourner Truth uses pathos all throughout her essay to try and connect with everyone in her audience. She connected with the minority, mothers, Christians, and men. She uses personal examples to hopefully get an emotional response. She says “I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And Ain’t I a Woman?” Sojourner Truth uses a powerful example from her life to get an emotional response from the women in the audience, especially colored women. For they are the ones who would have their children sold into slavery. By using biblical references in her speech she connects with the Christians in the audience, She asks “Where did your Christ come from?” And then follows by “From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him.” By saying that Christ came from a woman, she hopes they realize that women are important and had a huge role to play in the making of Christ. She also says, “ If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back…”

She connected emotionally with the Christian women in the audience by saying this because she gives them a sense of hope and realization. She also makes them out to be strong and independent because trying to get equal rights will take a great amount of power and dedication. In addition, she tries to make the men feel sorry for her. She states “If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” She purposely asks this question to get an emotional response from the men. In the speech she compares herself to the men in the audience by using personal examples in hopes that they see how similar they are. She says “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman?” She gives a very vivid example, and even shows them. Most slave owners wouldn’t buy colored women if they knew they couldn’t get the job done.

Obviously women are capable of working like men and Sojourner Truth proves it to them. She relates to the men in the audience by providing evidence of how she can work like any man, showing them they are equals. In the speech she also addresses the white man as an enemy. She says “ I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.” By saying this she gains their attention and makes them out to be an enemy towards the women and the movement for equal rights. She also hopes it will help women come together and fight the white man for equal rights. She concludes with a connection to Eve, by making the women have more confidence in the fight for equal rights, mostly connecting with the religious people attending. She says “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!” Sojourner Truth ends with a powerful sentence to motivate women into coming together and fighting for their rights to be equal. Another powerful and effective move she makes is telling the men to let women have rights. She states “And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

By ending her speech with a statement like this Truth makes the women feel confident and empowered. She also leaves the men surprised that an ex slave would have the courage to even say such a thing. Back then men were higher than women especially colored and for her to say this some might have felt offended, yet she said it anyway, not caring how they would feel. Overall this was a risky yet effective move to make. Sojourner also uses a what if statement when she says “…he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman!” She then proceeds to ask where their Christ came from and then says “From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him.” This makes them think what if she is right, and that is what she wants. She wants to make them question their beliefs and make them realize women are important and should be respected.

Rhetorical Devices

In Sojourners speech a man says “…that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.” Sojourner responds with “Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?” She explains how no one ever does any of these courtesies for her and contradicts what the man says. By using juxtaposition, the man explains how women need to be treated and Sojourner explains how in reality they don’t get treated like that. They don’t even have a say in anything and get walked all over by men. They’re not treated like how the man claims, if anything they’re treated like trash because of how little recognition they get and how much discrimination they would have to take from men.

Sojourner Truth uses a simile to compare herself to men. She says, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man…” She says this in hopes of making the men realize that they are alike. Also to help them understand that women can also eat a lot like men and work as hard, or even twice as hard as them. Throughout her speech she also uses biblical allusion to get on a more personal religious level. She asks them where did their Christ come from and also explains how the first woman God made turned the world her direction, then the women can also make such a change and gain equal rights. She ends with a biblical reference because she was a preacher and maybe she knew that it would have a greater impact to most people in the audience. Another effective device she used was anaphora, she repeatedly uses the phrase “And ain’t I a woman”. When she says this it’s kind of making her audience believe she deserves these equal rights. Sojourner is proud to be a woman that is capable of all the things men don’t want to believe she can do.

She says this phrase at the end of sentences when she makes a point of how she can do things just like men. Every single time she says it, it helps build the women’s emotions and how they should also feel like they deserve equal rights. She speaks of how equal in hand she is to men, and that she is a capable woman who can do anything and the women should feel like that as well. In her speech she uses a lot of imagery to grasp the reader’s mind and help them see inside her life. The more detail she uses the more people are moved and can actually picture it in their minds. Like when she talked about working like a man, and getting hit with a lash. She also says how she had to see her children get sold into slavery and feeling grief. Sojourner even added in how Eve was able to do such an extraordinary thing and turn the world her way. She uses hyperbole in her speech as well because Eve didn’t really “turn the world upside down,” she exaggerated this so the women can feel empowered by Eve, and give the women a sense of hope.

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Sojourner Truth successfully utilized multiple rhetorical strategies to engage her audience, and deliver a powerful message at the Women’s Rights Convention. She accomplished her exigence to speak forth about the gender and race discrimination women faced in the 1800s, and to motivate them to speak up and get the equal rights all women and women of color deserve. She ended her speech by successfully provoking a desire for change in women into finally getting the rights they have wanted for so long.

Works Cited

  1. Buhle, M. J., & Buhle, P. (Eds.). (2005). The concise history of woman suffrage: Selections from the classic work of Stanton, Anthony, Gage, and Harper. University of Illinois Press.
  2. Caron, J. A. (1998). Sojourner Truth: The life and times of a legendary African American woman leader. New York University Press.
  3. Crenshaw, K. W. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299.
  4. Delgado, R. (1995). The Rodrigo chronicles: Conversations about America and race. New York University Press.
  5. Dickson, D. M. (1988). Sojourner Truth's America. University of Illinois Press.
  6. Douglas, F. (1995). The life and times of Sojourner Truth. Da Capo Press.
  7. DuBois, W. E. B. (1897). The suppression of the African slave-trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870. Longmans, Green and Company.
  8. Hemmer, N. (2015). Messengers of the Right: Conservative media and the transformation of American politics. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  9. Painter, N. I. (1996). Sojourner Truth: A life, a symbol. WW Norton & Company.
  10. Stanton, E. C. (1892). The woman's bible: A classic feminist perspective. European Publishing Company.
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Cite this Essay

Sojourner Truth’s Speech Ain’t I a Woman. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Sojourner Truth’s Speech Ain’t I a Woman.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020,
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Sojourner Truth’s Speech Ain’t I a Woman [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Dec 10 [cited 2023 Dec 2]. Available from:
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