The Confines Of Graduation Day By Maya Angelou

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Within the confines of “Graduation Day” by Maya Angelou lies the intricate story of an African American girl struggling with the societal standards of the 1940s. This societal imbalanced resulted in the Caucasian race discriminating, and even segregating from the African American race. Although various issues are held responsible for this societal imbalance, one major contributor to the predicament includes communication and word choice. The classic saying, “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” Has ran though the head of every Human at some point in their life. Although words can never physically harm, how do they profile human identity? Words shape and define human identity, specifically personal image, through the forms of encouragement and discouragement. Understanding and defining human identity now will put the paper into context. Webster’s Dictionary defines identity as, “the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others”. (WEBS). Following that definition, Human identity is simply defined as one’s personal qualities and beliefs within themselves in regards to the changing environment around them. In Maya’s case in Graduation, the time context plays a major role in the story. Set in the 1940s during the climax of racism. At that time, there was serious racial tension. This included segregation and overall hate. At this time, Maya’s identity resides in her childhood, and her appeal towards graduation day, not in the culture of the time. Words of discouragement reveal one side of developing human identity. When Mr. Donleavy presented to the graduation class, he raved about how the Caucasian schools in the surrounding having the new and best equipment for t... ... middle of paper ..., leads everyone in sing the Negro National Anthem. At this point, Maya’s self-esteem rises. She even acknowledges Henry, saying, “…[his] words had made such an impression on me that I had been able to stretch myself tall and trembling and say, ‘I know not what course the other may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death.” (Angelo, 186) Maya gives credit to Patrick henry’s word’s for giving her confidence in herself, and unifying her community on her graduation day. Through the encouraging words of Patrick Henry, Maya’s personal identity rises. Understanding the difference between Encouraging and Discouraging words leads to characterizing the personal image., Through understanding the context of the narrative, and deterring positive and negative impact on words, and it depends on the situation and how the words ore used in order to gain self-identity.

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