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Word Count: 728
Slave families had a tendency to be unstable due to the nature of the institution of slavery Masters could sell members of the family away if they desired or could separate the family on the plantation making them work in different areas Despite this instability the family tended to be a central part of a slaves life and women played a significant role in the development of this family Slave owners often did not differentiate between genders on the field and thus the women often ended up working alongside men in fieldwork However within the slave community there was a more marked gender differentiation The men usually did chores such as trapping and hunting animals for food while the women did more of the domestic duties While these domestic duties tended to add more work to the slave womans day the domestic work was a way for women to rebel against the master to a degree Women did this work to keep themselves and their families healthy and would on occassion help a runaway slave by providing for him or her These responsibilities were in some ways a joy to slave women since they offered a degree of personal fulfillment One slave woman Mary Colquitt remarked that her grandmother and mother had often stayed up late sewing clothes for the children saying Dey done it cause dey wanted to Dey wuz workin for deyselves den Jones 29 Ironically this work caring for themselves and their families also benifitted the slave owners since healthy slaves meant that the masters could get more work out of them and thus make more money when the crops were harvested The family was important to most slave women and they had ways of making sure that they stayed together though these werent foolproof A woman assigned to the Big House when the rest of her family was on the fields could rebel thus making a mistresss life miserable
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