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Analyze the book Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody - How did the system of discrimination work, and why was it so har - Essay Example

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Based on your analysis of the book “Coming of Age in Mississippi” by Ann Moody - How did the system of discrimination work, and why was it so hard to dismantle? Anne Moody’s novel Coming of Age in Mississippi contains a large amount of autobiographical material, since she was herself brought up in a poor, African American family which struggled to survive through the middle decades of the twentieth century…
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Analyze the book Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody - How did the system of discrimination work, and why was it so har
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"Analyze the book Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody - How did the system of discrimination work, and why was it so har"

Download file to see previous pages Moody’s particular contribution to this important subject is to bring out the emotional and personal effects of this system of discrimination on the poorest people and spell out the awful consequences that followed any attempts at resistance against the overwhelming power of the white and racist ruling minority in Mississippi. The economic situation of the protagonist Anne’s family is very bad. The passages describing the various successive family homes, for example, detail the very basic conditions in a matter of fact way, showing how absolutely normal it was for African families to share one room, or even on occasion one bed (Moody, 13). Features such as wallpaper fastened on to the walls with tacks (Moody, 3), or a concern for economy in statements such as “Stop using up all that soap!” (Moody, 35) appear extreme to modern readers, because these small luxuries are taken for granted by the vast majority of American citizens today. The fact that an eight year old is left in charge of younger siblings, while both parents work long hours in the fields is evidence also that conditions for share-cropping farmers were not much better than those which were endured by African Americans under the old rules of slavery. Grinding poverty is the daily normality for this group of people, and it saps their strength, taking away the desire and ultimately also the ability to find a better way of life. Anne’s mother, for example, struggles every day of her life to provide even these fundamental necessities for her children and this explains her attitude of dejection and hopelessness throughout the book. Anne, as a young child, longs for a more spirited resistance, but does not appreciate the weight of economic responsibility that keeps a mother tied to a succession of demeaning and low paid jobs. These harsh conditions are described without negative comment in the opening pages of the book, but as the child grows older and encounters the luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms that white people such as the Johnsons have, a note of envy and indignation appears. It is bad enough to suffer deprivation and hunger, but the proximity of a whole other world that is physically nearby but economically out of reach makes the situation even worse. Prejudice and power are certainly factors in the maintenance of a segregated society in Mississippi, but one the most powerful forces that sustained the system of discrimination was widespread and unrelenting poverty. Social differences in the novel are partly defined by the economic factors mentioned above, but also very much influenced by race. The book shows how a child growing up in the segregated South has difficulty in understanding the labels that categorize people into different racial groups. The young Anne cannot figure out, for example, why two of her uncles who look exactly like all the white people, cannot be classified as white. Her mother’s answer “Cause they mama ain’t white” (Moody, 36) appears illogical to the child, who naturally looks for visual signals in the color of skin, eyes and hair that a person has. By adopting the innocent and questioning attitude of a child, the author cleverly points out the inherently illogical and arbitrary nature of the social hierarchy. The reader is forced to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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