• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Childhood Memoir - Maya Angelou.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Alanna Le Sueur H. English Period 4 Dec. 17th, 2003 Childhood Memoir Essay Throughout Maya Angelou's childhood, major obstacles do not cease to be thrown at her. This includes the obstacle she was born with, which is being a black female, in a harsh world of Jim Crow laws, racism and sexism, a real world existing during the 1930's-1940's in southern America. She depicts this world to us through the eyes of an innocent, confused little girl searching for her place in a hard world that is reluctant to accept her in it. Overall, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an honest, heartfelt depiction of the struggles of racial and gender discrimination endured by a southern black girl. In this childhood memoir, Maya Angelou vividly describes herself as a child through many different events and experiences that shape her character. Between the ages of 3 and 16 years old, Maya is moved around from 7 different homes. This leaves her with a deep sense of displacement and causes her to remain shy, introverted and reserved throughout her childhood; she puts up a shield, constantly repeating to herself the phrase "I didn't come to stay"(p.58), trying to remind herself not to get too close to people because she will just be moved again soon anyhow. ...read more.

Middle

"The white kids were going to have a chance to become Galileos and Madame Curies and Edisons and Gauguins, and our boys (the girls weren't even in on it) would try to be Jesse Owenses and Joe Louises"(p.151). Maya vividly describes the speech: "The man's dead words fell like bricks...and too many would stay settled in my belly"(p.151). This speech has a huge impact on Maya and her outlook on things, and from this day on, Maya tries to turn things around. She defies the idea of a racist glass ceiling that she once held and accepted, and longs to break through it, proving the speaker, a harsh representation of society wrong. Through several events in her early adolescence, we can see that she has become more independent, strong and self-assured. Also, her ignorance has evolved into awareness, as she describes: "I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware"(p. 230). The hard experiences enforced upon her by her environment had molded her into a strong young black woman. She shows her newfound confidence as she becomes the first black streetcar conductor at age fifteen. At sixteen, she hides her pregnancy from her mother for eight months and graduates from high school. ...read more.

Conclusion

life, but despite being black and female, the most vulnerable people to attack from racism and sexism, they manage to maintain their dignity and self-respect. Throughout the book, none of them ever capitulates to racist dishonor and attack. This gives Maya strength, and helps her become confident and proud to be the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco, and she does so with the support and encouragement of her female elders. Overall, Maya shows that childhood is an era in which, with the aid of your environment and the people close to you, you find yourself and grow comfortable with it. Maya Angelou's book conveys the difficulties of going through constant racial and gender discrimination endured by a young and confused southern black girl. At the same time, however, she speaks about and deals with many other issues that not only black females can relate to, such as the relationships between parents and children, physical and sexual insecurity and confusion, child abuse, and the search for one's own path in life. These issues do not discriminate, and Maya Angelou has depicted the impact of these issues on her life honestly and gracefully. In the end, Angelou shows how these difficulties actually pushed her to become a strong, confident, proud black woman. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Prejudice and Discrimination section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Prejudice and Discrimination essays

  1. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" - Maya Angelou Autobiography

    She only trusts her brother because he is the only one that can understand her. However, slowly Maya becomes aware of the racial prejudice and learns how to deal with it without the protection of her grandmother or Bailey. They go back with their mother to California once again due

  2. I have chosen to carry out my investigation on 'racism' - The hypothesis I ...

    There are many schemes and methods involved which are stated in paragraph. Finally moving on to the last sub question I think that this sub question isn't that good as you cannot tell whether there are still problems the only thing that can tell if the methods have worked and if there are still problems with racism is time.

  1. The 'glass ceiling' phenomenon

    An article published in The Guardian 25/09/2002 backs 'The Glass Ceiling' phenomena as it shows that women are still not making it to the top of their professions, despite thirty years of equal opportunities policies in the public and voluntary sectors.

  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Critique.

    Her uncle had to live life as a cripple and was many people mistreated him since he was black and was crippled. One time, while Maya walked into the store, she finds her uncle Willie 'standing erect behind the

  1. With the poem, Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou, she describes the basic feelings ...

    Especially imaginative was the comparison of "... shoulders falling down like teardrops", offering the image of shoulders sagging down in a depressed sort of way. (To Maya, this will never happen because she is better.) Figurative language abounds, with images of her dancing with her thighs, eyes and head lowered (spirit), etc.

  2. Changing The Face of Tomorrow - Youth Outreach of America

    organization, leaders of Outreach of America must possess an entrepreneurial spirit that pervades every area of the enterprise and shapes the work ethic of staff and volunteers. Our work can begin with any of these three interconnected elements. All of our resources are available to empower the leadership of Outreach of America to achieve the highest level of excellence.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work