Maya Angelou Discussion

Discussion # 2—Note that for this discussion there are several parts. Please make sure to attend to each part.

Part 1—Background information

In Maya Angelou’s interview, it is clear that as an artist she was a prolific and varied writer, writing poetry, fiction, memoir, and plays. She also was a talented dancer, actor and singer. She has an inspirational, poetic and musical quality that comes through in her voice. What part of Angelou’s interview or biographical information affected you the most? Why? Be specific.

Part 2—Story Analysis

Respond to two of the following questions. Make sure to provide the questions you are responding to in your post, and refer to the reading.

1. Prior to graduation, what is the mood of the graduating class and their families? How does that mood change and why?

2. What does Angelou mean when she writes, “The white kids were going to have a chance to become Galileos and Madame Curies and Edisons and Gaugins and our boys (the girls weren’t even in on it) would try to be Jesse Owenses and Joe Louises” (paragraph 40)?

3. What is the effect of Mr. Donleavy’s appearance and speech at the graduation? Explain Marguerite’s changed attitude towards herself and others change because of Donleavy.

4. Why, in spite of her admiration for Henry Reed does Marguerite sit in the audience “rebutting” all of his comments during his valedictory speech?    

5. Look at the paragraph beginning “Donleavy was running for election” (48). How do his ideas reflect racist attitudes even though he is discussing some things he plans to do for the people of Stamps if elected?          

6. Listen to the recording of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and reflect on the words (provided in “Course readings and lecture notes”).

How does Henry Reed’s singing of this song bring the mood of pride and celebration back to the graduation ceremony? Why does it restore Marguerite’s pride in herself and her people?

7. What do you think is Angelou’s overall message in this piece? What did you get from it?

Part 3—Writer’s Craft

Discussed in the notes “Reading Fiction” are 6 elements of fiction: Tone, Plot, Characterization, Setting, Theme and Point of View. Choose one element and reflect on how Angelou uses it in her writing. Give specific examples and quotes from the text to show how she uses the element and its effect on the story. Be sure to quote correctly (using quotation marks and providing paragraph #s). This part of the discussion should be written as a fully developed paragraph or two.

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