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Steady Going Up By Maya Angelou
Transcript of Steady Going Up By Maya Angelou
Presentation By Ariel De La Vaso
Summary of "Steady Going Up"
The main character is Robert, a young African American man, who is having trouble sleeping on the bus which is taking him north, from Memphis, Tennessee, to Ohio, as it moves through the rain. Robert is exhausted and is worried about his sister, who, he has recently learned, is sick in Cincinnati. As he naps, engrossed with his concern for his sister’s well-being, he recalls their past together. After his parents died when he was fifteen, he had raised his sister himself. Working at an auto repair shop trained him to become an superb mechanic. Meanwhile he cared for his sister and supported her when she reached college age and chose to pursue a career in nursing. Robert also has a fiancé, Barbara, who has helped him see the significance of his sister’s career choice and of the pride that will come to the family when Baby Sister enters the caring profession and is in a position to help those like their own parents, who died before their time. Giving up on finding a comfortable resting position, Robert rises from his seat to move forward on the bus but stops when an elderly woman (the only other African American passenger on the bus) speaks to him. She takes a maternal interest in him and cautions him that two white men (Abe and Slim) who are drinking were discussing him as he napped. Following the woman’s advice, Robert returns to the back of the bus rather than risk confrontation. When the bus stops, Robert must go to the restroom, so he exits the bus, and is confronted in the colored bathroom by Abe and Slim. Which leads to Robert defending him self by kneeing Abe and taking the bottle of liquor from Abe and hitting slim in the head with it. Robert boards back on his bus leaving the two guys in the colored bathroom, and he feels safe because he knows that although the bus driver looked for the two guys in the white’s bathroom and café that the bus driver will never even think to go in the colored bathroom.
In conclusion, Author Maya Angelou wrote a story that shows the innocents of an ideal black man with morals, and empowers others with the moral of the story. Which is that each individual person’s achievements and contributions can help to lift the race as a whole and aid other African Americans in seizing opportunities historically denied to them.
Maya Angelou was born April 4, 1928 in St. Louis as Marguerite Johnson. She is a poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She has published ten best selling books and numerous magazine articles earning her Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations.
An Phenomenal Woman : Maya Angelou
Major Theme of “Steady Going Up”
The major theme of
“Steady Going Up”
is the vulnerability of innocent black men to white violence.
Author Maya Angelou wrote the story out of the realization that African American women feel toward the endangerment that black men face, advising what the men might do to strengthen and guard their manhood.
The author draws tacitly on a long history of white violence against black men, false accusations that black men lust after white women, and the white stereotyping of black sexuality. “All the niggers is running away from the south. How come, boy? How come you running to get up north? You gone slip in the sheets with some white lady?” (Pg 369)
In having her young African American protagonist Robert endure and overcome the white racists who seek to hurt him, she reverses the pattern of persecution characteristic in years of lynching's and racial violence.
The story is written in the African American reform tradition of uplift, with the title a version of the motto of the black women’s movement, Lifting As We Climb, meaning that each individual black person’s achievements and contributions help to lift the race as a whole and aid other African Americans in seizing opportunities historically denied to them.
Angelou re-creates stereotypes that are characteristic of different segments of the black and white populations. Robert is a good, responsible, caring young man who has been “steady going up.” Since the death of his parents he has taken responsibility for the family by learning a trade, making himself a master mechanic, and rearing his younger sister. In looking after her interests, he has assumed the role of a father figure and best friend (as Buddy, her nickname for him, connotes). He has been a kind of guardian angel for her, helping her to attend nursing school and heading north to get her when he hears that she is ill.
Robert is a fine man physically as well as a person of good moral character. His tall physique makes it hard for him to get comfortable on the cramped seats of the bus, and when the elderly woman speaks to him, he is polite and deferential to her in response. The woman, meanwhile, also represents an important social type in the black community. She is the respected elder, what sociologists have called an “other mother,” in reference to women who care for all the children in their neighborhoods as if they were their own, and who look out for the welfare of young black people even if they are strangers, offering advice and wisdom. Her religious faith, part of the paradigm of the respected elder, is represented in the Bible that she has on her lap. Her warning to Robert about the white men is based on a awareness of what can happen.