42 pages 1 hour read

Maya Angelou

Mom & Me & Mom

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2013

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Part 1, Prologue-Chapter 8Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “Mom & Me”

Part 1, Prologue Summary

Maya Angelou mentions a question she often confronts: How did she become a successful writer while being Black, female, and poor in 20th-century America? Angelou states she was formed by her grandmother and mother, whom she deeply loved. She notes their love “informed, educated, and liberated” her (1). She lived with her grandmother until adolescence. Angelou notes her grandmother never kissed her but would always praise her beauty and intelligence, introducing her as “[her] little professor” to visitors (1). Overall, she stresses the importance of love, a liberatory condition for humans, life, and the world. She states the novel’s purpose is to explore how love can heal and help people rise.

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

Angelou’s mother, Vivian Baxter, is born Black and poor in St. Louis, Missouri, in the early 20th century, a difficult time for African American people in the South. Her father is an immigrant from Trinidad with a “dark chocolate complexion” (3). Her mother is of Irish ancestry but was adopted and raised by a German family. Vivian is one-eighth African American but has light-colored skin. She is the first of six children.

The Baxter family enjoys singing gospel songs. As the children grow, their father wants to harden them, urging them to fight and defend themselves but never to commit crimes.