Destined To Be Changed Essay

1094 words - 4 pages

Some would argue that only a select few can become doctors, politicians, and professional elites. That people are born with this fate. One cannot become president of the United States, simply because of mere desire. People are different. They can only live in the un-opposable flow of life. Not Maya Angelou. In her story about fighting destiny, "What's Your Name Girl?", she discovers that despite her born identity, she does not have to sit by and watch her life pass her by. The power to believe in one's self is the power to change fate. Though shaped by gender, race and age, she finds that her destiny is something that can be crafted and controlled. Angelou's birthrights did not include learning to participate in what was considered some of life's finer nuances. Angelou was born into a poor southern town. Though not "poverty-stricken, or just munching along on a few of life's necessities, [she was] given as extensive and irrelevant preparations for adulthood as rich white girls shown in magazines...While white girls learned to waltz...[she was] lagging behind" (74). She "mastered the art of crocheting and tatting...but the finer touches around the home, like setting a table with real silver, baking roasts, and cooking vegetables without meat, had to be learned elsewhere. Usually at the source of those habits" (74). In order to learn these finer skills, she had to go to work in the kitchen of a rich white woman's house. This supposedly was the only way to get this kind of training. In her time, perhaps this was one of the few jobs that a black woman could get, or hope to get. So Mrs. Viola Cullinan takes her under her wing. To Mrs. Cullinan, Maya is no different than the slaves that worked for her parents; just another piece of property. In the kitchen of Mrs. Cullinan, Angelou works with Miss Glory, "who was a descendent of slaves that had worked for the Cullinans" (75). As Angelou is performing her duties one afternoon, serving Mrs. Cullinan and her friend, Mrs. Cullinan's friend says to her that she would "call her Mary" (76) simply out of convenience. This renaming of a person is an old practice used by slave holders who looked at their slaves as personal property, not as people. Angelou knew this practice well. "Every person [she] knew had a hellish horror of being 'called out of his name'" (77). Even Miss Glory, had undergone this name change. Her "name used to be Hallelujah...but [her] mistress gave her 'Glory', and it stuck" (77). The difference between the two is Miss Glory simply accepted this fate, even liked it, while Angelou would never give Mrs. Cullinan the "chance to call [her] Mary because if [she] were starving [she] would never work for her" (76). Angelou's inner pride was overpowering her ability to deal with prejudice.To be "called out of one's name" is to take away that person's personality and character. What is the importance of a name? To Mrs. Cullinan who owned "goblets, sherbet glasses, wine glasses,...

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