Graduation is a time-honored tradition that is celebrated by people of all ages across the globe. For many, it marks an important milestone in their lives, signifying the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
For Maya Angelou, Graduation was a very significant event. It took place during a time when race relations were very tense in America. Angelou’s Graduation speech is a powerful and moving call for unity and understanding.
In her speech, Angelou touches on some important themes, such as the importance of education, the power of words, and the need for understanding and tolerance. She delivers her message with passion and conviction, urging her audience to come together and make a difference in the world.
In Maya Angelou’s “Graduation,” an African American writer, she depicts her maturation as a youngster during eighth grade graduation through the persona of Marguerite Johnson. She is not only graduating from eighth grade, but she is also moving on to adulthood.
Angelou’s story is set in the deep South during the early 1930s, a time when Jim Crow laws were still in effect and racial segregation was still commonplace. Angelou begins her essay by describing how excited she is to graduate, despite the fact that she is one of only a handful of black students in her class. She talks about how her teachers and fellow students have treated her with respect and how proud she is to be graduating. However, as the day of Graduation draws near, Marguerite starts to feel nervous and even scared, as she realizes that she will be leaving the safety and security of her childhood behind.
On Graduation day, Marguerite’s fears come true when one of her white classmates makes a racist remark to her during the ceremony. Angelou uses this incident to show how Graduation can be a time of both joy and sorrow, as well as a time of change. Despite the fact that she has been hurt by racism, Marguerite still feels proud of her accomplishments and looks forward to the future.
Graduation is an important milestone in everyone’s life, but it can be especially significant for those who have had to overcome difficult obstacles. For Maya Angelou, graduation was a time of both triumph and sadness, as she realized that she was no longer a child, but also that prejudice and racism were still very much a part of her world. Nevertheless, she remained hopeful for the future and proud of her accomplishments. Graduation can be a time of mixed emotions for everyone, but it is also a time of hope and new beginnings.
Angelou employs imagery, using similes and colors as well as juxtaposition in her narrative essay to illustrate the racial disparity between Negroes and whites. Angelou’s writing is emotive, with expressions that indicate a positive or negative emotional transformation.
As a young girl, Angelou was filled with excitement and hope for what graduation would bring. She describes her picture-perfect Graduation Day, where she would be “marching down the aisle in a long white dress” (Angelou 2). This image of Graduation Day is one that is usually associated with happiness and accomplishment.
However, Angelou’s hopes are quickly dashed when she learns that her white classmates will not be attending the same Graduation ceremony as her. Instead, they will be given their own separate Graduation in the school auditorium while the Negro students watch from the balcony. This news comes as a huge disappointment to Angelou, who had been looking forward to Graduation day for so long.
The use of color is also evident in Angelou’s essay. She describes the Graduation gowns as being “long white dresses” (Angelou 2). The color white is often associated with purity, innocence, and hope. This is significant because it shows how Graduation day is supposed to be a day of hope and accomplishment for all students, regardless of race. However, the fact that the Negro students are not allowed to attend the same Graduation ceremony as their white counterparts illustrates the racial inequality that still exists in society.
Lastly, Angelou uses juxtaposition to contrast the Graduation ceremony for the Negro students with that of the whites. She describes the Graduation ceremony for the Negro students as being held in “a hot steamy room” with “no fans” (Angelou 2). This is in stark contrast to the Graduation ceremony for the whites, which is held in the school auditorium with “cool air” (Angelou 2). This contrast illustrates how Graduation day is supposed to be a day of celebration and accomplishment, but for the Negro students, it is nothing more than a hot, steamy room with no fans.
She begins her essay by describing the white and black schools. The black school didn’t have any of the things the white school had, such as “lawns, hedges, tennis courts, or climbing ivy,” implying that it lacked them. She added that white people were destined to be “Galileos and Madame Curies and Edisons and Gauguins,” while blacks were only meant to be ” Jesse Owenses and Joe Louises.”
This difference in expectations creates a rift between the races, which is only deepened by the way the speaker’s grandmother treated her.
The speaker’s grandmother was very old-fashioned and believed that “a lady never told her age, a lady never appeared in public without ahat and gloves, a lady never went anywhere alone, a lady never accepted an invitation to dinner or lunch without first consulting her husband or, if she were unmarried, her father.”
This last rule is what caused problems for the speaker when she was invited to go see Dick and Jane with Mary Louise. The speaker wanted to go so badly that she begged and pleaded with her grandmother until she finally relented and said she would ask Mary Louise’s father if it was all right.
The speaker’s joy is cut short, however, when Mary Louise’s father says that she can’t go because she is black. The speaker is so disappointed that she doesn’t even want to go to her own graduation. But her grandmother tells her that she has to go, and that she has to “wear a dress and gloves and a hat, and you have to behave like a lady.”
The speaker goes to graduations and behaves like a lady, but she is still hurt by the way she was treated by Mary Louise’s father. She says that she “could not understand how love could be stripped away by a word like nigger.” It is only when she hears the valedictorian, Henry Reed, give his speech that she begins to understand. He talks about how the Graduation is a beginning and not an end, and how it is just a “stepping stone” to something better.
The speaker realizes that she has been Graduated from her childhood, and that she now has to face the world as an adult. She also realizes that she is not alone, and that there are other people who have gone through the same thing.
This experience has changed her, and she is no longer the little girl who wanted to go see Dick and Jane with Mary Louise. She is now a woman, and she is ready to face the world.