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Comparing and Contrasting Characters

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    Comparing and Contrasting Characters


                The autobiographical novel of Maya Angelou is a kind of novel which depicts the life of a Black-American girl who struggled her life in the story through finding the reason behind racism and explanations about the difference of people such as when will people be called beautiful or ugly. Regarding this, this research essay’s purpose is to compare and contrast the main character, Maya, from two other characters of the novel to see the difference between Maya’s relationship with each of the said characters. By comparing and contrasting Maya’s relationship to her grandmother and mother as well, this paper will serve an explanation on how each of the two characters tended to influence her and how she was effected by each of them.


    Being a mother don’t just mean bearing a great responsibility of giving the materials needs of a child but the most important thing which matters is the capability of a certain mother to provide the emotional needs of her own offspring which would help the child live with self confidence and trust towards his or her own capabilities.

                Maya as a young child never lack of love from the people around her, she did not even lack the advices and opinions in order for her to grow as a good and respectful person. Thus, growing older being reared by other person rather than an individual’s own mother would make an individual feel different from his/her own parent and would make an individual’s relationship change towards his or her own mother.

    Maya and her Grandmother

    Annie Henderson who is Maya’s momma or grandmother is fond of her grandchildren, she and Maya were so close that she acted like the main character’s own mother. When Momma was in Stamps, she was the one who reared Maya about everything with the basis of a Christian’s values wherein she became Maya’s moral adviser as well. Momma was the one who taught Maya and her brother about conducting one’s self towards the white Americans but she strictly analyzes her words towards doing so because whenever race plays a part of their conversation, she sees to it that her grandchildren won’t be bias such as having the perception that all white Americans are the same and that they all hated black people (Angelou).

    An example of Momma’s mother-like behavior towards Maya is when she was taunted by white American kids. The kids started to mock Momma but the latter intended not to do anything or even to give attention towards the kids because she wanted to teach Maya that they should not speak against other people because it would soon risk their own dignity. By doing this, Momma influenced Maya to stand out no matter what other people say against them. Momma loves Maya and her brother so much that Momma did not want them to experience more insults due to their race as blacks and so she managed to do everything she can for Maya and her brother to be voided from racist people that they could encounter. An example of this wherein Momma’s love towards Maya can be seen is through the incident wherein Momma took Maya and her brother to California. Mrs. Henderson was never out of her birthplace ever since she was born, but for the sake of her grandchildren’s goodness, she moved to California with Maya and Bailey (Angelou).

    Maya and her Mother

    Vivian Baxter was never an emotional mother towards Maya; she never did any affectionate behavior towards her daughter Maya or her son Bailey. Vivian’s relationship towards her daughter depicts a pure materialistic relationship wherein she only acts as a mother when she sends Maya what Maya needs. Not unlike Momma, Vivian as the biological mother of Maya never gave the child an advice for Maya to understand life. Vivian’s actions towards Maya made Maya realize that her mother does not really care about her wellbeing and that Vivian will not care as long as the latter could provide for Maya’s materialistic needs. Vivian’s being a careless mother can be depicted through her act wherein she tended to leave Maya in the house with her live-in boyfriend without having a second thought. This act of Vivian brought Maya into a more disastrous situation wherein the child was raped by her mother’s live-in partner (Angelou).


    Maya’s relationship with her grandmother Momma is as intent as a child’s relationship with his or her own mother. This is because Maya’s mother is incapable of showing her own child an affection and care which the child needed the most. Through the time that Maya grew older, her Momma was the one who guided her and reared her about the things of which she should know from her own mother but since her mother only cared about the materialistic responsibility, Maya was dragged to be more close to her grandmother.

    On the contrary Maya’s relationship with her own mother is considered as plainly materialistic relationship wherein her mother only provides the material things she needed but not the emotional needs. As the story deepened, Vivian learned how to care about her daughter because of the rape incident that happened between her live-in boyfriend and Maya which led her to realize that her child needs her to give personal advises as much as guidance. Therefore in the end, Maya somehow admired her mother once again for feeling the first emotional advice she obtained from Vivian and that is to trust one’s maternal instinct.

    Work Cited

    Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Random House, 1969.


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    Comparing and Contrasting Characters. (2016, Sep 08). Retrieved from

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