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Graduation Day Maya Angelou Summary

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Self-Identity In Maya Angelou’s narrative, “Graduation Day,” she conveys the oppressive reality of life in the South by sharing an experience in which words influenced her character. Angelou recounts the words of her community on the day of her graduation as uplifting and hopeful for the graduates’ futures. When Mr. Donleavy, a white speaker, arrives he delivers a speech to the graduates informing them about the forthcoming educational improvements to their school and the Central High School, an all-white school. The suggestive differences expose the graduates to their limitations for success. Then Henry Reed, the graduation class’ valedictorian, leads the class in the Negro National Anthem reminding the graduates of the hardships their ancestors endured. This juxtaposition impacted Angelou’s value of words and she emphasizes their importance throughout her narrative. Words characterize an individual’s perceived self-identity.
Positive words enable an individual’s sense of peace. Angelou’s depiction of her community’s optimistic morale supports this argument. Angelou expresses, “…and nearly every customer gave me a nickel or maybe even a dime with
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Angelou’s exposition of the roles her ethnicity contributes to society reveal the limitations negative words inflict. Angelou affirms this claim, “We were maids and farmers, handymen and washerwomen, and anything higher that we aspired to was farcical and presumptuous” (Angelou, 2015, p. 186). The expected classification of Angelou’s race exhibits a lack of significance for receiving an education. Consequently, an individual’s sense of importance diminishes resulting in an ideology of desperation. Angelou proclaims, “It was awful to be a Negro and have no control over my life” (Angelou, 2015, p. 186). Therefore, Angelou’s misconstrued perception of herself validates the way in which negative words characterize an individual’s sense of
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