Angelou feels different in the short story of "Champion of the World" because she is a young African American girl in a white society fighting racism and segregation. In this short story, a white male is beating down an African American male in a boxing match for the title. This translates to the racial aspects of the white society between the African American and racism in the 1930's and 40's. For instance the girl feels that if Joe was to lose the boxing match that African Americans would be put back in slavery and be beyond help. Angelou writes with a certain rhythm and has a
A race war between whites and blacks has blighted American history since colonial times. In her essay “Graduation,” Maya Angelou recollects the experience of her eighth grade graduation in the 1930s to examine the personal growth of humans caught in the adversity of racial discrimination. Through narrative structure, selection of detail, and use of imagery, Angelou encourages young blacks to follow their ambitions with pride, despite what the “white man” thinks of them.
As Angelou’s narrative unfolds, she describes in great detail the boxing match between Joe Louis, an African American man and Carrera, a Caucasian, as she and many other African-Americans in her community listen to the match over the radio while waiting on bated breath for the hopeful news of Joe’s victory. As Angelou describes, the match meant more than just boxing, “If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help” (Angelou 20) and the whites would retain their superiority. African Americans needed to win to prove their strength, but with this proven strength also comes more fear. The repercussions of Joe’s win proves to be more conflict for the African-American community, “It wouldn't do for a Black man and his family to be caught...when Joe Louis had proved we were the strongest people in the world” (Angelou 30). African-Americans, who were oppressed in the community had gained strength after the match, but the white communities fear of them increased more. This irony, that African- Americans are now proven to be strong, but they are still discriminated by the white population, only adds to Angelou’s internal and external conflict with racism. Besides her personal struggles, Angelou broadens her narrative to address not just her personal point of view, but also the struggles faced by the entire community. Internally, she struggles with racism and
Maya Angelou’s essay is describing her eighth grade graduation and the racism that was prominent at that time. With an explanation of the roles at graduation, she begins excited for her own graduation but as she listens to the speech of a white man, she becomes angered with the racial discrimination that was hinted at in his speech. In the midst of her anger, she regained hope from the black valedictorian’s speech and proudly stated that her race still continued to live happily even with the limited opportunities that were given.
The defeat of Joe Louis would show the weakness of African American’s, reassure white people of their place in society, and would keep African Americans under oppression. Unlike a defeat, a win would show the strength African Americans possess; a win would prove that African Americans are the strongest people in the world. It is not about being strong physically, but they must be mentally tough enough to handle the oppression day by day.The amount of pressure in the room is shown by the precise wording and imagery, Maya describes the situation by saying, “there were a few sounds from the audience, but they seemed to be holding themselves in against tremendous pressure” (135-136). The syntax Maya Angelou uses reveals the anxiety African Americans were experiencing during the match. Maya Angelou chooses to use abrupt and concise sentences such as, “We didn’t breathe. We didn’t
Her black racial identity was also reduced to nothing. “Hadn’t he heard the whitefolks? We couldn’t be…” (Language Acts, pp 11, paragraph 52). Thus the black community of Stamps, Arkansas and the black communities outside of Stamps, Arkansas, were reduced to nothing. Yet Henry Reed, the valedictorian of Maya’s graduating class of 1940, used the power of language to reconstruct not only Angelou’s identity, but also the black American’s identity. He changed his original valedictorian speech into singing the “Negro National Anthem” (“, pp 11, paragraph 56) which brought strength and acknowledgement toward the black American struggle. “We were on top again. As always, again. We survived.” (“, pp 12, paragraph 63) shows Angelou’s and the community’s resilience, and how words can not only deconstruct, but also reconstruct the individual, the community, and people’s racial identity. I think the primary audience is anyone who is going through some form of rejection, some form of their identity deconstructed. The author is successful in this by using pathos, the audience becomes
“The needs of a society determine its ethics, and in the black American ghettos the hero is that man who is offered only the crumbs from his country 's table but by ingenuity and courage is able to take for himself a Lucullan feast. Hence the janitor who lives in one room but sports a robin 's-egg-blue Cadillac is not laughed at but admired, and the domestic who buys forty-dollar shoes is not criticized but is appreciated. We know that they have put to use their full mental and physical powers. Each single gain feeds into the gains of the body collective” (Angelou 218). Maya believes that blacks are being robbed of their lives and freedom to explore, grow, and succeed. This statement shows that ones with the very little they have will utilize it completely and have that to their advantage, and then they will succeed. Racism and prejudice are large factors that shapes Maya’s autobiography and eventually motivate her to ignore all of the negative influences and build her confidence. There are also many violent events towards blacks that show Maya the severity of prejudice in her society. One day when Maya was at the store a fight was on the radio where a black man and white man were battling in a boxing ring. When the black fighter Louis was getting beaten Maya thought, “It was our people falling. It was another
They thought it was over, that he was finished and done with, but failure was not an option for the “Brown Bomber”. “Champion of the world” is an excerpt from the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; written by Maya Angelou. This chapter/essay takes place in the late 1930s, before African Americans started their movement for equal civil rights. Maya Angelou was born in 1928, living through these times of civil inequalities, Angelou shares her personal experiences in this chapter. Angelou descriptive imagery, diction, and detail to recall her vivid memories of Joe Louis fighting as a symbol of hope for the black community. The apparent fear of Joe losing the fight demonstrates the desperation of the African American community to rise above the racism and inequality of the time.
Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri (1928) as Marguerite Johnson; however she grew up in Stamps, Arkansas where her grandmother ran a general store. Angelou has acted and written several plays, poems, and a six-part autobiography “I Know Why the caged Bird Sings” making her one of this country’s foremost black writers. In this story Angelou tells about how her grandmother (momma) triumphs over a pack of taunting neighborhood children. I feel very strongly about this particular piece given the time set and the way black people were treated by the whites, and how without harsh words or threats some black people overcame the taunting and cruelties of the whites.
The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Specifically it will discuss the themes of racism and segregation, and how these strong themes are woven throughout this moving autobiography. Maya Angelou recounts the story of her early life, including the racism and segregation she experiences throughout her formative years. With wit, sincerity, and remarkable talent, Angelou portrays racism as a product of ignorance and prejudice. However, she finds the strength to rise above this crippling condition.
Maya Angelou’s use of symbolism in the book is used to describe her displacement in society and how difficult it is to find self-identity, revealing the form of being a “Caged bird.” Maya is a caged bird because she is aware of the displacement of blacks in America and the entitlement and freedom of whites. “if growing up is as painful for the southern girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat” (Angelou 4). Angelou is aware because of the color of her skin, she is living in a society that does not want her or anyone who looks like her. With her awareness Angelou, “...escapes stasis to become a subject in the perpetual process of forming and emerging. It is a dynamic subjectivity that emerges out
Angelou utilizes metaphors to prove to her readers that she is determined and willing to end the conflict of racial segregation in America. She describes the past slavery and the harsh terms that her ancestors used to go through, but now in the current situation of America, she can come, “out of the huts of history’s shame /I rise” (29-30). The audience is reminded of the fact that slavery is now in the past, and Angelou does this in order to rhetorically ask the audience ‘why America overcame slavery. ’ She describes herself emerging from a ‘hut of history’s shame’ as she is referring to the huts that slaves used to be kept in, as well as proving to be the generation that puts an end the shameful segregation in America, ‘I rise.’ The relation of rising from a slave hut into the world reveals the statement being made that Angelou will no longer accept the African American’s current treatment. She goes further on the topic of America’s history of slavery and
A strong and influential memoirist is able to grasp the reader’s attention and dive into topics bigger than themselves. Maya Angelou, the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, describes herself as neither a hero nor a victim as she recollects her past. Growing up, Maya Angelou not only suffered from white prejudice and gender inequality, she was presented with situations that made her feel powerless. According to Angelou, “The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, whites illogical hate and Black lack of power,” (Angelou, 272). However, she found herself persevering through all of the adversity she faced and accepted her reality: “the fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement” (Angelou, 272). Angelou did an exceptional job of describing herself as neither a hero nor a victim in her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
A young Maya Angelou grew up in a strict household under the rule of Grandmother Henderson, who had two rules: “Thou shall not be dirty” and “Thou shall not be impudent.” In short, Maya was to be nice and respectful toward everyone. One day a group known as the powhitetrash girls began harassing Grandmother Henderson, who had earlier on told Maya to stay inside. She was, however, the closest thing Maya had to a mother, which had Maya torn between her desire to help Grandmother Henderson and her obligation to remain indoors.
Maya Angelou describes what her life with her grandmother is like while constantly being discriminated against her race. She then found her father, and he leaves Maya and Bailey off to their mother’s house. There, the mother’s boyfriend rapes Maya. After suffering from psychological shock, Maya then moves back to her grandmother’s. As a teenager Maya gets nervous about her sexual identity and tries to discover it. Through these harsh times, the naïve and softhearted Maya grows to become a strong, independent woman.