62 pages 2 hours read

Kate Moore

The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2021

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Part 2, Chapters 16-21Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2: “Dark Before the Dawn”

Part 2, Chapters 16-18 Summary

Without explanation, Elizabeth is suddenly transferred to Eighth Ward, McFarland’s repository for some of Jacksonville’s most violent female patients with the most severe illnesses, emotional damage, and unpredictability. Elizabeth recalled her first night in Eighth Ward, locked in a dormitory room amidst the cacophony of crying, shouting, and babbling patients, as “the blackest night of my life.” (135) Elizabeth was confused, but all she learned from attendant Minnie Tenney was that McFarland had ordered Minnie not to allow Elizabeth to leave the ward. Elizabeth immediately speculated that her written defense of her “sanity” and indictment of McFarland were behind his decision. When she awoke in the morning, she was appalled to discover that the women among her were overwhelmingly filthy, coated in dirt, grime, and, in many cases, their own waste, neglected due to overcrowding, understaffing, and often general indifference. Instead of despairing, Elizabeth accepted this change in her station as an opportunity to immerse herself in a role that would glorify God, and she immediately set to work, filling her empty chamber pot with soap and water and gently and carefully approaching her fellow patients, slowly proceeding to bathe them, brush their hair, and attempt to restore their hygiene.

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