65 pages 2 hours read

Maya Angelou

The Heart of a Woman

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1981

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Essay Topics


Much of the introduction of The Heart of a Woman describes the author’s brief friendship with Billy Holiday. Why does Angelou choose to open her narrative with this episode? How does it introduce the main themes of the book?


How does Maya Angelou present the challenges of Black sisterhood in The Heart of a Woman? Consider her relationships with the African activists’ wives and her literary and activist friends in the US. What are the limits, if any, of female friendship, and how does Angelou navigate these relationships?


In Chapter 2, “Uncle Tom” emerges as a symbol of someone who rejects the high price of freedom for the supposed “safety” of slavery. How does this symbol operate in the text? Where does Angelou fall on the question of the high price of freedom, both for herself and for others? Use examples from the text in your response.