Maya Angelou and M.F.K. Fisher

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When reading two passages, one by M.F.K. Fisher on the French port of Marseilles and the other by Maya Angelou on the small town of Stamps, I noticed that the passages had some similarities but where entirely different in their effect and the handling of language resources. While Angelou and Fisher organized and constructed their passages similarly, the persona and rhetoric of the authors are opposite.

Angelou and Fisher's styles differ greatly, however, they both used very similar plot structure in which they introduced the common stereotypes of the places they were speaking of, and they shot it down with reality. Angelou speaks of "harmonious black music drift[ing] like perfume through this precious air" (Angelou, 3) but later on crushes that fantasy with the true "flesh-real and swollen-belly poor" (Angelou, 5) of the South. In the same manner, Fisher speaks of Marseilles "reputation as world capital for dope, whores and street violence" (Fisher 6) but later in the passage her states that "a trip through old Marseilles/ cannot fail to thrill" (Fisher 21, 22). Thus, Fisher and Angelou organized their plot structures in order to have the same effect on the audience.

While the authors' plot structure may have been similar, their rhetorical structure is far from comparable. Fisher uses more of a discursive structure, in which she is very frank and sarcastic. She casually speaks of "undesirables throng[ing] the narrow alleys, and sisters of scarlet sit[ting] in the doorways" (Fisher 23) which gives her passage the effect of being an overly sarcastic fabliau which can be found in any editorial page of a newspaper. However, Angelou took a more dramatic approach to her writing, and described everything down to the smell of the earth that was "pungent[and], spiced with the odor of cattle manure" (Angelou 11), thus, giving her passage a sense of romanticism and clearly being the counter of Fisher's burlesque style.
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