Men We Reaped

Woman Warrior: An Exploration on Invincibility in the life of Jesmyn Ward College

Jesmyn Ward’s autobiography, Men We Reaped, tells of Ward’s life as it relates to five men that she knew, all of whom died atrociously and unfairly. Throughout her memoir, Ward uses several methods to differentiate herself from her community. While many of the characters in the autobiography are devastated by the effects of drugs, Ward remains relatively unaffected, representing her overall disengagement with the racism that the other characters in the novel must face. Additionally, while most of the characters are depicted as helpless victims of a broken system, Ward’s self portrayal is one of valor and invincibility, further differentiating her from her community. Finally, while most of the people in Ward’s life are subjected to a hard life full of drug abuse, poverty, and seemingly inevitable death, Ward is able to escape this cycle of poverty and become educated, wealthy, and successful. In her memoir, Men We Reaped, although Ward often portends that the specter of systemic racism present in the novel has equally affected her and others in her community, the overwhelming portrayal of Ward as invincible or immune towards the many societal constraints that burden other African Americans resolutely invalidates this claim.


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