“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd is an eye opening fictional story. Writing to the extent of Kidd’s fictional and imaginative creativity, Sue Monk Kidd introduces a masterpiece of hope, courage, the search for freedom, and the determination to have a chance to have a voice. The book speaks upon Sarah Grimk and her sister Angelina, who face real-life abolitionist and suffragette in the early 19th century. Kidd’s book is so powerful and speaks volume of women slavery and the battle these slaves had to fight. The power and strength of Kidd’s book shows the importance of abolitionists, suffragette, women’s right, and women being invisible not having a voice. I would recommend this book to high school history classes because women’s history and slavery is very important. In high school, women’s history is not prioritized or acknowledged the way it should be. This book is powerful and I believe speaks volume about women’s history and can educate those who do not know about or fully understand women’s history. Kidd’s really shines on the truth and real experiences women in history faced whether you are a slave or a white women.
Kidd introduces Sarah who is a 11 year old girl, she is given Hetty also known as “Handful”, who is a 10-year-old slave girl. At an early age it is quickly identified that Sarah is against slavery, and when given her “gift” which is Hetty she tries with everything in her power to to decline the “gift”. A brave act of disobedience, Sarah secretly teaches Hetty how to read. Hetty also learns to sew, and she prospers to be the ultimate seamstress in Charleston. Her special talent is what she hopes she can offer in order to gain freedom to try to escape. Hetty was always hopeful that her special talent is what is going to set her free. Sarah’s act of disobedience leads Hetty facing severe punishments and also Sarah facing her own punishments from her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Sarah has the strength, courage, and freewill to voice herself about the immoral ways of slavery. Sarah’s family does not support her hope to study law and become a lawyer because she is a women. The lack of support Sarah received from her family was astonishing to her because she does not understand why her family would believe because she is a women she does not have the right to succeed. Sarah then understood that she will face many obstacles due to her being a women. She is allowed to do as she please in regards to reading, thinking, and speaking but only if her or her presence does not make any men unwanted, less, or uncomfortable Kidd opens up a new view and perspective view of the freedom of slavery. The strength of Kidd’s book shows the historical accuracy women faced throughout history.
In U.S. history it is known that women have been shut out, ignored, and made invisible. Until it came a time women fought to be noticed and to change women’s history. Throughout history, women have fought against being unseen, invisible, not having a voice in society that they deserved. Kidd’s book relates to two readings that I have also read, one is by Jan E Lewis, “A Revolution for Whom? Women in the Era of the American Revolution,” where Lewis informs readers about the multiple ways in which revolution such as revolution in education made women more recognized, more respected, and noticed but Lewis also discusses how women were still unnoticed in politics. Another reading that I have read that relates to Kidd’s book is by Annette Gordon-Reed’s “The Hemings-Jefferson Treaty: Paris, 1789.” Gordon-Reed discusses a relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson and the commitment Jefferson made to Sally so he can keep her by his side. Though women struggled and still struggle to make themselves known, visible, seen, and heard, they still find the power to make themselves known by getting recognition in society. Women fight for recognition in all aspects whether it be through education or anything else they can prosper in, as well as empowering themselves to be greater.
Lewis describes and goes into detail about numerous revolutions and the way women glowed through these revolutions. The main revolution Lewis discusses that women became noticed in was education. This relates to Kidd’s story because Hetty became educated when Sarah teaches her how to read and she learns to sew. Kidd’s book has an historical accuracy to women who were not given the proper education. Enslaved women struggled most because they did not know much and they were not taught anything and if they were it was very little education. Hetty did not know how to read, when given to Sarah she had the special opportunity and luck to have someone who was against slavery and wanted better to teach her how to read. If Sarah was not against slavery and followed the regulations Hetty would not have known how to read or had any knowledge to grow and believe that her sewing skills would help her escape. Lewis also goes into depth about the way women were still invisible when it came to politics. Women fought and began to stand up for themselves so they can make changes that would help them be identified in a more vital manner. Sarah takes a stand in not accepting the “gift” of a slave. She fought for a change even her being a young age because she was aware of the damage and hurt slaves endured. Though she could not reject her “gift”, she still wanted better for Hetty even if that meant she had to face consequences so she taught Hetty how to read. Sarah did not have a say in what she wanted because in the political government women did not have that power. In history it is has come to be known that women did not receive equal education, especially enslaved women.
The women that were educated were likely to be of white decent. If a women was middle class or African American slave they typically had little to no educational training and anything that they knew was usually self-taught like Hetty learning to sew. Before the Revolution women had little to no education nevertheless years later that rapidly changed. Years after the revolution, “women themselves became teachers, by the middle of the nineteenth century dominating the profession” (Lewis 87). From having little to no education women began to develop knowledge. They learned to educate themselves eventually dominating and specializing in a profession. Hetty became the ultimate seamstress in Charleston because she gained knowledge and self-taught herself how to succeed and hope that her talent will give her freedom and escape. Although in Lewis’s book it shows that women were noticed and recognized in the education field, Lewis also addresses how women were unnoticed in politics.“Women were by and large excluded from politics – that is, the high politics of government – before the Revolution, and they were by and large excluded after it as well (Lewis 87). The government policy was white women were to pass down slaves to their daughters once the were ready. Due to that policy and regulation, although Sarah tried to reject getting a slave as a gift she has no say. Women lacked power, even if they were a white women with better privileges than the African American slaves. Kidd’s book really brings the reality of history alive. Kidd’s book reflects Lewis’s book and the meaning of Lewis’s book.
Some women became acknowledged in history for changing their social order while others became appreciated in history for their powerful, heroic, and courageous measures. Annette Gordon-Reed speaks about a women who was recognized for her powerful, committed, heroic, and courageous acts. Gordon-Reed speaks about a young woman with the name of Sally Hemings. Sally Hemings was Thomas Jefferson’s concubine at the age of sixteen in Paris. She became a free slave in Paris and when Jefferson informed her about her having to return to Virginia with him it created conflict between the them. Her being pregnant with Jefferson’s child took a huge toll on the conflict. Madison Hemings, one of the sons of Sally Hemings detailed the situation as, “She was just beginning to understand the French language well, and in France she was free, while if she returned to Virginia she would be re-enslaved. So she refused to return with him. To induce her to do so he promised her extraordinary privileges, and made a solemn pledge that her children should be freed at the age of twenty-one years. In consequence of his promises, on which she implicitly relied, she returned to Virginia” (Gordon-Reed 100). Sally Hemings took the courage to decline the offer of going back to Virginia with Jefferson because she knew that her and her children would become slaves and she did not want that for her children.
The couple made a truce, Jefferson would allow her children to be free of slavery once they turn twenty-one if Hemings returned to Virginia with him. Hemings was strong and brave to decline the offer even knowing that if there wasn’t another offer she would have to raise the children on her own. She was courages to stand for her rights as a women to tell a man no and to find equality for her children so they will not be slaves. Sally showed that she was a powerful women and that she will standup for what she believed in no matter who it was or what the circumstances were. In Kidd’s book you find two people that resemble Sally’s powerful, committed, heroic, and courageous acts. Sarah and her sister Angelina at a young age were very powerful and tried to influence the outlook of things. Sarah and Angelina were banished from their hometown because they fought for African American equality. Understanding the consequences they would face and the risk and endangerment they can endure in doing so that did not stop them from their bravery. Sarah envisioned herself being a lawyer but because she was a women she knew that her chances were slim to none. Sarah and Angeline exploit the idea that not all white people agreed with slavery and they wanted to make it known that they were against slavery. These two young white women made history the way Sally did with their rebellious, powerful, committed, heroic, and courageous acts.
In conclusion, this book was a book with great value to the accuracy of history. Though it was fictional, it was very realistic to women’s history and I recommend this book in high school history because it defines the purpose of understanding women’s history. The realist examples of living these characters faced and how related it is to real history is what makes the book truly come to life. This book would teach and impact many people to better understand and learn about women history. Women are not acknowledged enough and this book shows the battles women had to face no matter their class and it also shows that they were still good white civilians who fought for equality for women and slaves. Reading this book gave me a different perspective and outlook on women’s history.