pg. 8 Chap. 1:
"The sounds of the new morning had been
replaced with grumbles about cheating houses,
weighted scales, snakes, skimpy cotton and dusty
rows. In later years I was to confront the
stereotyped picture of gay song-singing cotton
pickers with such an inordinate rage that I was
told even by fellow blacks that my paranoia was
embarrassing. But I had seen the fingers cut by
the mean little cotton boils, and I had witnessed
the backs and shoulders and arm and legs
resisting any further demands."
The importance of this quote is really integral to
the rest of the book. To be able to criticize
something you should have experienced it. This
passage shows that Maya has experienced the
non-privilege of being a Negro during the thirties,
and experienced it at a young age. Maya wrote
that she later confronted the stereotype, She had a
right to because of her previous position.
pg.14 chap. 2
"Bailey and I decided to memorize a scene from
The Merchant of Venice , but realized that
Momma would question us about the author and
that we'd have to tell her that Shakespeare was
white, And it wouldn't matter to her whether or
not he was dead. So we chose 'The Creation' by
James Weldon Johnson "
This excerpt is crucial because it puts yet another
facet on segregation. Really the blacks and whites
were both afraid of each other equally. The only
difference was that the whitefolks were in a
position to act on those fears.
pg.25 chap 4.
"In Stamps the segregation was so complete that
most Black children didn't really, absolutely know
what whites looked like. Other than they were
different, to be dreaded, and in that dread was
included the hostility of the powerless against the
powerful, the poor against the rich, The worker
against the worked for, and the ragged against the
I remember never believing that whites were
The first line really does a good job of summing
up the situation in Stamps but the key section of
this quotation is the very last line. "I remember
never believing that whites were really real."
This statement really makes the whole situation
clear in that it really brings home how someone
can think that an entire race of people don't exist.
pg.48 chap 7
"The judge asked that Mrs. Henderson be
subpoenaed, and when Momma arrived and said
that she was Mrs. Henderson, The judge , the
bailiff, and other whites in the audience laughed.
The judge had really made a gaffe calling a black
Really, this quote here reflects the depth of whites
hatred of blacks. Even something as simple as
being called Ms. was considered inappropriate for
Negroes and was used to further demoralize.
pg. 52 chap 8
" The gifts opened the door to questions that
neither of us wanted to ask. Why did they send us
away? and What did we do so wrong? So Wrong
Why, at three and four , did we have tags put on
or arms to be sent by train alone with only the
porter to look after us?
This passage conveys that even though it was a
different time and place, some feeling are always
the same . These questions opened up by the
presents are the kind every adopted child asks
themselves at one time or another.
pg. 60 chap 9
"Our father left St. Louis a few days later for
California, and I was neither glad nor sorry. He
was a stranger and if he chose to leave with a
stranger it was all of one piece."
This remark is crucial to a deeper understand of
Maya's personality when she was young. Most
people would take the days spent in travel with
their father and form a link to him no matter how
fragile or temporary. But Maya has made a
decision whether she knew it or not to not think
about her father because of the pain that would
pg 63 chap 10
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