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The Captain's Widow of SandwichSelf-Invention and the Life of Hannah Rebecca Burgess, 1834-1917$
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Megan Taylor Shockley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814783191

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814783191.001.0001

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A New Era, a New Narrative

A New Era, a New Narrative

(p.111) 5 A New Era, a New Narrative
The Captain's Widow of Sandwich

Megan Taylor Shockley

NYU Press

This chapter reveals how Rebecca used the Challenger journal and rituals of public and private mourning in order to construct and reinforce her new identity. Having spent the past two years almost entirely in William's company, Rebecca now looked toward what she perceived to be a bleak and lonely future. Since she made a promise never to marry again, the young woman perhaps saw nothing before her but solitude. The 22-year old woman's writings suggest that she was overcome by despondent feelings immediately upon William's passing, and she recorded these feelings for years after William's death. She also used her journals to begin creating a narrative about what happened to William in his last days, setting a dramatic scene in which she figured as a prominent actor and the object of William's undying love.

Keywords:   Challenger journal, mourning, constructing identities, William's death, widowhood

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