65 pages 2 hours read

Maya Angelou

The Heart of a Woman

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1981

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Chapters 17-20Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 17 Summary

Angelou is working long hours at the magazine, where she wins the respect of her colleagues and a pay rise. Her marriage continues to be unhappy, and her son, struggling with teenage hormones, a new language, and “another joyless home” (234), alternates between withdrawn bookishness and a raucous social life. Despite her loveless marriage, Angelou still has great respect for Make’s political activism.

She develops a close, sister-like friendship with two other women, the Liberian A. B. Williamson (Banti) and the Ethiopian Kebidetch (Kebi). The three women bond at a diplomatic reception at the Liberian Residence. Make enters into a loud altercation with an anonymous white man. The three women stand close to their husbands as the conflict is defused and are left alone together when the crowd that has gathered disperses. The Egyptian poet, Hanifa Fathy, is another close female friend. Despite the unhappiness of her marriage, Angelou observes that she is still happy to be in Africa and content with her professional success and regained economic autonomy, together with her friendship to Du Bois and these three women.

At the end of the chapter, Angelou describes ahilarious” women-only party at Kebi’s house, where all the women share traditional dance steps from their own countries.