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Chapter 16 Notes from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Chapter 16

Young black girls learn to be "ladies" just like young black girls, but while the white girls learn to waltz, the black girls are "learning the mid-Victorian values with very little money to indulge them." Chapter 16, pg. 101 At age ten, Maya is sent to a white woman's kitchen to learn manners. Mrs. Viola Cullinan and her maid, Miss Glory, keep an awe-inspiring house. Every dish and piece of silverware has a special purpose. Mrs. Cullinan, Glory tells her, cannot have children (though Bailey later tells her that Mr. Cullinan has two children by a black woman, and that Maya knows the children personally.) Maya pities her boss at first, but then one evening as Maya is serving her and her friends, Mrs. Cullinan, who thinks Maya's name is Margaret, tells her friends to call her Mary. Margaret is too long, she says. Maya is furious. She wonders if the women are making fun of her because they know about Mr. Freeman. The next day, Mrs. Cullinan calls her Mary, and Glory takes her aside and tells her not to be offended. She says that her name used to be Hallelujah, but years ago Mrs. Cullinan changed it to Glory because it was shorter. Maya decides that she has to leave the job, but she can't quit-Momma wouldn't understand. She has to be fired. Bailey instructs her to break one of Mrs. Cullinan's favorite dishes. When she does so, everyone comes running. Mrs. Cullinan bawls over her broken dish, and Glory is almost as upset. When someone calls the culprit Mary, Mrs. Cullinan screams angrily that her name is Margaret, and hurls a piece of the dish at Maya. It hits Glory, who starts to scream. Maya walks out, saying to herself, "Mrs. Cullinan was right about one thing. My name wasn't Mary." Chapter 16, pg. 108

Topic Tracking: Self Esteem 5

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