Changing Women Essay

1493 words - 6 pages

Throughout the Civil War, the roles of women and children alike have evolved from the reliance on the husband, who is the head of the household, to the women and children becoming the ones relied on for survival. This is particularly true in Eliza Smith’s letter to her husband, William, who is away at war. She writes to him continuously about the issues and difficulties going on at home while including her affection towards him. As Eliza writes to William, we are able to see how the war has taken a major toll on their family in such ways as role changes due to financial difficulties, continuous dependency on her husband and the overall stress that has overcome her and her family; this is ...view middle of the document...

Eliza also mentions the fact that William had to send the family money to live off of due to there being limited work because of some unfortunate weather conditions. She writes to her husband, “ he is been very slack in work on account of the great flood I received the money quite safe and have had to live on it a great deal” (2). The statement clearly suggests that there is not much work for their son to complete due to weather circumstances so they have to rely on the money William sends in, if it even makes it there. This statement also proposes the idea that because of the weather conditions and flooding, they are unable to harvest some crops from their own garden as they have been damaged or ruined by the flood, which is another possibility as to why they have to rely on money for groceries.
These financial burdens that Eliza and her family had to endure also took effected her household roles as William was off at war. One example of her role change in the home was her discussion of gardening. In her letter, she discusses the planting process that has taken over the entire landscape to their neighbor’s fence while also talking about how well William’s fruit trees are doing. Since Eliza is having to take care of what used to be Williams household chores, her household role has evolved into not only taking care of her previous responsibilities but also taking over William’s as well. Overall, she is having to attempt to be the main support system until William returns home.
The Civil War not only affected Eliza and William’s family financially with the outcome of role changes, but brought along some emotional struggles as well. In Eliza’s letter to William, there is so much emotion being presented throughout the letter that readers can almost feel it. She consistently included the use of “dear” and “my love” as though she desperately missed him and longed for him to come home. Eliza also writes in her letter, “I shall be glad when the time comes for you to come home again you must rite as often as you can it make me feel so good to here from you we have never been divided before” (2). This suggests that she is highly struggling emotionally as she repeats these phrases multiple times throughout her letter.
While Eliza struggled with the emotional stress, it has caused her to consistently repeat her feelings about William in her letter. In the letter, Eliza expresses her happiness and excitement for when William is able to come home as she longs for the emotional connection of love that she hasn’t felt as much since William left. As she continuously reveals her feelings and emotions for him, it not only shows her emotional distress but also presents a continual dependency of her husband to provide. This continual dependency is not only for William to provide for her and their family but to also provide Eliza with an emotional connection that she is so desperately missing as William is at war.
While dealing with the emotional struggles...

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