42 pages 1 hour read

Maya Angelou

Mom & Me & Mom

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2013

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Important Quotes

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“Vivian’s father always wanted to hear about the rough games his sons played. He would listen eagerly, but if their games ended without a fight or at least a scuffle, he would blow air through his teeth and say, ‘That’s little boys’ play. Don’t waste my time with silly tales.’ Then he would tell Vivian, ‘Bibbi, these boys are too big to play little girls’ games. Don’t let them grow up to be women.’ Vivian took his instruction seriously.”

(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 6)

This quote describes Vivian Baxter and introduces the motif of womanhood. As a child, she does not conform to the stereotypical image of a girl. Though her father expects his sons to be rough, Vivian proves tougher than them. As toughness is associated with traditional masculinity, she subverts stereotypes by being resilient and embracing femininity.

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“Save for one horrific visit to St. Louis, we lived with my father’s mother, Grandmother Annie Henderson, and her other son, Uncle Willie, in Stamps until I was thirteen. The visit to St. Louis lasted only a short time but I was raped there and the rapist had been killed. I thought I had caused his death because I told his name to the family. Out of guilt, I stopped talking to everyone except Bailey. I decided that my voice was so powerful that it could kill people, but it could not harm my brother because we loved each other so much.”

(Part 1, Chapter 2, Page 8)

This quote alludes to a seven-year-old Maya Angelou’s sexual assault and resulting trauma. While she blames herself for her rapist’s death, she also realizes the power of her own voice. She is able to survive the ordeal partially due to her brother, Bailey, but the threat of racial violence often renders them both silent.

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“She made a funny face and against my will, I smiled. She kissed me on my lips and started to cry. ‘That’s the first time I have seen you smile. It is a beautiful smile. Mother’s beautiful daughter can smile.’ I was not used to being called beautiful. That day, I learned that I could be a giver simply by bringing a smile to another person.”

(Part 1, Chapter 3, Page 16)

Angelou describes her first intimate moment with her mother. She initially remains restrained while living with her, but Vivian attempts to slowly overcome the trauma of her abandonment. Vivian is described as a strong woman who moves others with her innate power, her warmth.