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Finishing School by Maya Angelou

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by

Matthew Kerr

on 12 October 2012

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Transcript of Finishing School by Maya Angelou

Important Details Angelou expresses and defends her thesis mainly through the interactions with Mrs.Cullinan. We learn that Mrs. Cullinan is a very depressed woman in several ways.
Angelou hints to marriage problems early on, implying that Mr. Cullinan rarely made an appearance at the dinner table. (4) We later learn that Mr. Cullinan had two girls by a black woman. (10) As if this were not bad enough for poor Mrs. Viola Cullinan, she is unable to have any children of her own. All things considered, we can hardly blame her for her alcoholic tendencies.(9) We see that Mrs. Cullinan is desperate to be accepted by her friends, especially "the specked-faced one" as she is bullied into renaming Margaret. (13) We see that Mrs. Cullinan is unhappy about this as she "sag[s] a little" as she calls Angelou Mary for the first time. (23)
Angelou also shows her thesis in Margret's struggle against Mrs. Cullinan. Angelou details Margret's feelings of anger and injured pride at being renamed Mary. (29) She wants to quit but knows her family would not let her, so she breaks Mrs. Cullinan's prized china to be fired. In Mrs. Cullinan's fury, she denounces her so-called friends and stands up for herself. "Her name's Margret goddammit, her name's Margret!" (38) Tropes and Schemes "There were goblets, sherbet glasses, ice cream glasses, wine glasses, green glass coffee cups with matching saucers." (6)- Asyndeton
"My pity for Mrs. Cullinan preceded me the next morning like the Cheshire cat’s smile." (10)- Allusion and simile
"She’s a peach. That woman is a real peach.” (30)- Metaphor First Paragraph The first paragraph introduces Margret. We learn that she is a black girl living in the south. We also learn that she is just about at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder due to her race, but despite this all the girls were to go to a finishing school to learn correct social behaviors. Angelou goes on to explain that she gained her social education working for a woman named Mrs. Cullinan. Thesis Angelou's thesis was implicit. She showed us the importance of standing up for ourselves both through her struggle and through Mrs. Cullinans. Angelou leads us to this conclusion rather than telling us so we can form our own opinions. Finishing School Maya Angelou Vocab: Debutante (n.)- An upper-class young woman making her first appearance in fashionable society

Hysteria (n.)- Exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, esp. among a group of people Maya Angelou Angelou was raised in Stamps, AK. This story was part of her autobiography. She suffered from racism throughout her life but worked her way through to become an accomplished writer and performer. Questions?
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