Since human beings arrived on the planet Earth, there have been few cultures that lacked the one thing which has ultimately held our species back, prejudice. Throughout history, we see how millions upon millions of people have been killed simply because one group of people believed in a different God, came from another country, or simply had a different color of skin. Fortunately, human beings hold the ability to overcome prejudice through education and dialogue between different ethnic or racial groups. Unfortunately though, human beings have often preferred to take the path towards ignorance and bigotry. Throughout her autobiography, ” Coming of Age in Mississippi,” Anne Moody discusses how she was introduced to the harsh reality of a culture where individuals were unwilling to live together in peace and equality. Moody’s story documents her life from her upbringing in rural Mississippi to her later involvement with the civil rights movements of the 1960’s. In telling her story, Moody touches upon a number of different themes in order to convey certain points. One of the major themes found in the story deals with the notion that prejudice is not something people are born with, but a learned behavior. Two of the other main themes used discuss the disunity of African Americans to band together as well as a common theme which emphasized the power of determination and strength. As she discusses her childhood in the first section of ” Coming of Age in Mississippi,” Moody illustrates the fact that people are not born to hate each other, but learn to hate because of a number of factors. In many cases, the path to prejudice begins by simply branding something as ” different.” An example of this used in the book is when Moody and her siblings arrived at the movie theater at the same time as their white friends, Katie and Bill. Not thinking anything of it, Essie, Adline, and Junior follow the white children into the ” white lobby,” only to find out that they were different. ” I had never really thought of them as white before. Now all of a sudden they were white, and their whiteness made them better than me” (p. 34). Still unsure as to what makes white people different, Essie even makes up a game to examine the white children’s’ privates. Later on in the story, the murder of Emmitt Till brings up the issue of fear and how it can only widen divides. ” Before Emmet Till’s murder, I had known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was a new fear known to me, the fear of being killed just because I was black” (p. 125). Another major theme deals with the disunity of the African American community. People will find ways to classify others as different, even if those differences are minute. Moody was originally under the impression that all African Americans would unite with a common cause, but she soon sees that this is not the reality. ” Then I began to think about Miss Pearl and Raymond’s people and how they hated Mama and for no reason at all than the fact that she was a couple of shades darker than the other members of their family. Yet they were Negroes and we were also Negroes” (p. 59). One of Moody’s other themes is the story of how one can do anything in life, as long as they are determined and do not accept social implications. Anne did not understand why she was not allowed to have the same opportunities as white women simply because of the way society dictated. Only through her overcoming adversity and constant struggle to succeed, is Moody given opportunities to do great things, like attend Tugaloo University on a full scholarship. This classic story of an African American woman coming of age in the South helps to illustrate the atmosphere of the times as well as the things people did in order to further a stance. Moody’s use of themes dealing with blind hatred, the disunity of African Americans, and the power of determination to show the world how, like countless other African Americans, she was able to fight for her right to be equal.
HomeComing of age in mississippi critical analysis/book review