Life Lessons in Maya Angelou's Graduation

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Life Lessons in Maya Angelou's Graduation

Throughout life we go through many stepping stones, Maya Angelou's autobiographical essay "Graduation", was about more than just moving on to another grade. The unexpected events that occurred during the ceremony enabled her to graduate from the views of a child to the more experienced and sometimes disenchanting views of an adult. Upon reading the story there is an initial feeling of excitement and hope which was quickly tarnished with the abrupt awareness of human prejudices. The author vividly illustrates a rainbow of significant mood changes she undergoes throughout the story.

From the outset of the story there is an overwhelming sense of hope that has enveloped the entire community and school with the upcoming graduation. The communitie's involvement strengthens the authors excitement in her rite of passage. Everyone is preparing for the ceremony and seeking to see how it will affect the lives of those involved. "Only a small percentage would be continuing on to college" (835) and others were just excited for the "glorious release" (834) from school. She felt like she was on top of the world, after all, "the graduating classes themselves were the nobility" (834). It is obvious how much pride she takes in her community by the way she describes her class as "an extended family." (834). The author's school was not the most impressive school compared to the white schools in the area but that could not damper the spirit that was filling the air. Parents who were buying or making new outfits for their graduates made everyone including the author the center of attention. Her "momma launched out on [hers]," (835) and she was swollen with pride that she was going to be a walking mod...

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...fe she really knew and felt deep down to the core of her being what the words truly meant. The words had brought back her hope and pride in herself and in her community. What Leavy had said was a fallacy and they could as they have in the past rise above the world's bigotry. Righteousness returned to Angelou and the entire community; "we were on top again."(841).

During the essay the author lost her innocence but graduated to a deeper appreciation and clarity of who she is and who she could become. In her school with no visible fences keeping the children within the schoolyard, there were the invisible fences of racism that tried to limit them from reaching their full potential. The author concludes, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death" (841).

Works Cited:

Angelou, Maya. 'Graduation.' Cromley 29-39.

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