Chapter 24 Notes from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Chapter 24

Maya has two very painful cavities. The nearest black dentist is 25 miles away, so Momma says they will go see Dentist Lincoln, a white dentist in Stamps who Momma says owes her a favor. Maya knows that during the Depression both whites and blacks borrowed money from Momma, but she has never heard of Lincoln seeing a black person. She bathes carefully, and they walk to the white side of town. The dentist's secretary at first does not want to let them in. Then the dentist slowly tells Momma, without once looking at Maya, that he does not treat black people. Momma reminds him that he almost lost his office, and she lent him money to save it. He acts sorry, but he tells her, "my policy is I'd rather stick my hand in a dog's mouth than in a nigger's." Chapter 24, pg. 184 Momma tells Maya to go downstairs. Waiting, Maya daydreams that her grandmother is punishing the dentist. She forces him to leave town and never practice dentistry again. In her daydream, Momma speaks perfect English, never using slang.

Momma reappears, and takes her to the black dentist twenty five miles away. That evening, Maya hears Momma telling Willie what she said to the white dentist. She demanded interest on the money she had lent him, so that she could pay for a train ticket to the black dentist. He gave it to her, even though he hadn't actually owed it. Hearing this, Willie laughs, and Momma joins him. Maya prefers her version of what happened.

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