Analysis of Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi
Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi is a narrated autobiography depicting what it was like to grow up in the South as a poor African American female. Her autobiography takes us through her life journey beginning with her at the age of four all the way through to her adult years and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. The book is divided into four periods: Childhood, High School, College and The Movement. Each of these periods represents the process by which she “came of age” with each stage and its experiences having an effect on her enlightenment. She illustrates how important the Civil Rights Movement was by detailing the economic, social, and racial injustices against African Americans she experienced.
Moody’s childhood lacked any positive influences; she was the child of poor sharecroppers who worked for a white farmer and her father deserted the family for another woman. She attended segregated schools and was forced to start working from the fourth grade on in order to help support her poor family. After her father left them, her mother moved them off the plantation and closer to Centreville, Mississippi in order to try and support the family. Her mother eventually married a man whose family did not get along with her and as a teenager Moody felt sexually harassed by her stepfather thus causing Moody to move out while she was still in high school.
There were many acts of violence that took place during Moody’s childhood that helped prove to her that interracial relationships were unacceptable. For example, white people burned down the Taplin family home, killing everyone inside. Moody recalls being in shock and everyone in the car sitting still in dead silence, “We sat in the car for about an hour, silently looking at this debris and the ashes that covered the nine charcoal-burned bodies . . . I shall never forget the expressions on the faces of the Negroes. There was almost unanimous hopelessness in them.” It wasn’t until highschool when she came to her first realization about the racial problems and violence that have been plaguing her when a fourteen-year-old African American boy is murdered for having whistled at a white woman. Before this, Moody was under the impression that “Evil Spirits” were to blame for the mysterious deaths of African Americans, “Up until his death, I had heard of Negroes found floating in a river or dead somewhere with their bodies riddled with bullets . . . When I asked her (Mama) who killed the man and why, she said, ‘An Evil Spirit killed him. You gotta be a good girl or will kill you too.’ So since I was seven, I had lived in fear of that ‘Evil Spirit.’” She became very upset and feared “being killed just because I was black. This was the worst of my fears.” Moody eventually comes to learn about the NAACP and what they stood for, that this organization is trying to help improve the situation for African Americans...