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A Little Of Each Other Essay

1011 words - 4 pages

The trials and hardships one overcomes in a lifetime shapes who that person becomes. Yet, at the same time, the people that that person surrounds him/herself with have an even greater impact on that person’s character and personality. In her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou is influenced by people who have qualities she aspires to have. Bailey, Vivian, Mama, and Mrs. Flowers are all either beautiful, mentally fortified, or both, and they all greatly help transform Maya from a weak, self-conscious young girl into a strong, independent African American woman.
Bailey is Maya’s brother and one year her senior, and he is Maya’s protector and the person she can confide in. He is handsome and graceful, whereas Maya describes herself as “big, elbowy, and grating” (17). Whenever the family elders make an unkind comment about Maya’s appearance, Bailey always takes revenge for her by making an equally rude comment about one of the elder’s family members. In this way Bailey protects his sister as well as, perhaps inadvertently, assuring Maya that he thinks she is beautiful . Bailey is Maya’s only sibling, and because they share common interests such as reading, the two are very close. When Maya was raped in St. Louis, Maya confides the name of her attacker to Bailey alone. When they return to Stamps after the traumatizing event, Bailey once again acts as her protector, and she speaks only to him. When they move to San Francisco, Bailey and Maya grow apart. When Bailey moves out of the family house Maya is hurt, and when she tries to talk to him he tells her to leave him alone. She writes, “I told myself sadly that growing up was not the painless process one would have thought it to be” (217). This shunning makes Maya grow as a person because she has to face that as she grows older, the people close to her may slowly drift away from her.
As Maya grew apart from Bailey, she and her mother, Vivian,grew closer. Though Vivian was Maya's mom, she was really a stranger to her throughout her early childhood. The first time Maya stayed with Vivian was in St. Louis. Maya didn’t connect with Vivian as much as Bailey did, and she was astounded by Viivan's beauty. She says about her mother and Bailey, “They were more alike than she and I… (50)”. When Maya moved in with Vivian in San Francisco, Maya grew closer to her mother. When she is confused about her growth as a woman and her sexuality she confides her thoughts and fears to her mother. Vivian is a strong, independent woman who encourages Maya to not give up when Maya wants to be a streetcar conductor. Vivian helps Maya persevere through the belief that colored people couldn’t become streetcar conductors. Though Vivian may not have cared for Maya in a typical motherly way, she still provided Maya with an example of a confident and successful woman. She helped Maya take her first steps...

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