Lindy warn’t satisfied wid rentin’ so I buyed a piece ob lan’, an’ I’se glad now I’se got it. Lindy’s got a lot ob gumption; knows most as much as a man. She ain’t got dat long head fer nuffin. She’s got lots ob sense, but I don’t like to tell her so.

Aunt Linda’s husband, Salters, explains his perceptions of Aunt Linda’s authority to Iola, Robert, and Uncle Daniel in Chapter XIX. Salters makes this comment during Robert and Iola’s visit to the former Johnson plantation following the Civil War and the slaves’ emancipation. Through her monetary contributions to purchasing their home, Aunt Linda makes financial decisions and controls money—tasks clearly designated to men at that time. While Salters admits his affection and respect for his wife, his reveals in these words that he desires to keep her in her place—subordinate to him. He fears she will exert too much influence over him and usurp the decision-making power assigned to men. In short, Aunt Linda is a threat to Salters’s masculinity. According to Salters, Aunt Linda is almost as intelligent as a man. His carefully chosen words reveal a layer of sexism buried beneath his admiration for his wife’s practicality and intellectual curiosity.

Harper incites black feminism in the novel, and she explores the notion that black women are doubly oppressed—subjugated because they are black and because they are female. Aunt Linda suffers through the physical and emotional abuse of slavery and remains illiterate because her former owner forbade her to become educated. A former slave, Aunt Linda also exists under the reign of her husband, who secretly respects and admires her but remains silent and aloof about his appreciation for her persistence in urging him to purchase their own home. Resilient and faithful, Aunt Linda surmounts her trials and continues to blatantly declare her opinions and desires. She even becomes a businesswoman who successfully sells her pies to survive while her husband is at war. Harper presents other strong female characters as well, such as Miss Delany and Iola, who are educated and career-oriented. Aunt Linda is an entrepreneur, an assertive wife, and an active community member, and she and the other strong women celebrate black women’s determination and perseverance in the face of multiple obstacles in their private lives and in the broader realm of society.