She expresses her joy and happiness at her graduation day by emphasizing that graduation is a very important day in a person's life. She creates a photographic memory for the reader and the reader feels like that they're actually there. Such photographic depiction is aided by intelligent metaphors which Angelou uses to make the reader realize the actuality of the situation.
Her story is about a girl who had been awaiting her graduation day for such a long time and expected it to be nothing less than marvelous. She could hardly wait to climb the stage and receive her hard-earned diploma. She was not the only one excited for the ceremony, but others had been waiting for the day with as much anticipation. Angelou's mother made her a beautiful dress and, complete with embroideries and frills. She received gifts and money from many people, along with words of wisdom encouraging her to nourish her will to achieve her desires in life. This made her happy and she was keen to reap the benefits from such words of encouragement.
When the day of graduation finally came, Angelou woke up to a magnificent breakfast made by her mother, and after making preparations made her way down to the school for the long awaited graduation. After reaching there, Angelou finally seated her parents and then sat with the other students in the main auditorium.
Angelou shortly realized that something was out of place as everyone was rushing here and there shortly after the opening ceremony. They were shortly informed that the guest speaker was on a tight schedule and could not stay for much time. The chief guest speaker Mr. Donleavy along with another white man who Mr. Donleavy didn't even bother to introduce rushed through the uninspiring speech highlighting the feats of all the white students while completely ignoring the achievements of the black students. This disappointed Angelou deeply and she was instantaneously reminded of all the underachieved positions of Negros in the society. She went and expressed her dismay by saying that no reasoning can be done with the human race.
Angelou's graduation ceremony took place in 1940. Again, here we see that the incident took place well after slavery was abolished. In her essay Angelou talks about her graduation and the realization of the African-American community and their secret. "Only a small percentage would be continuing on to college one of the south A&M (agricultural and mechanical) schools, which trained Negro youths to be carpenters, farmers, handymen, masons, maids, cooks and baby nurses."(336) Similar to Angelou, Hurston also uses the word Negro while talking about how she saw being an African-American as a celebration instead of a liability in the art world. "I am colored but I offer & #8230; only Negro in the…. An Indian chief."(159) By doing his, both Angelou and Hurston show the prejudice against them. They point out to the reader that they have that much of a prejudice against them that they, African-Americans, also call themselves "Negro." This causes empathy. Angelou also uses her own life experience as evidence in her essay. She talks about what she sees and what she feels during her graduation. By doing this Angelou, just like Staples, is able to form a bond with the reader and is able to make the reader empathize with her. Thus, forming such a bond enables the reader to feel connected to the situation so that even if they haven't undergone a similar experience, they can still draw some lesson out of it.
Now we come to our last essay "On Seeing England for The First Time" by Jamaica Kincaid. In this essay, Kincaid criticizes the colonization of the Caribbean by the English. She claims that the colonization brainwashes the people into thinking that England is "a very special jewel" when actually it's nothing more than a "leg of mutton." She brings up some strange events from her childhood like the one with her father wearing a felt hat. "Felt was not the proper material from which a hat that was expected to provide shade from the hot sun should be made..." Kincaid brings forth occurrences of her childhood by mentioning that her family liked to pose as an English family by adapting the English way of living. Her mother always wanted her to eat properly and her family liked to stuff itself with a large breakfast every morning. Here, Kincaid is trying to convey the message that a person shouldn't be ashamed of their roots, and should never forget them. Human beings are born different from one another, and that's the beauty of the world; its diversity.
Angelou use their own life experiences when trying to show how people have prejudice against them, differently. Kincaid uses her own life experience when trying to show the reader how people around her worship England and have a prejudice against England in a good, but, according to her, a false way.
Each and every one of the essays that I have mentioned may seem relatively easy at first sight. They may look like a story, but they are much more. Each author allows the reader the opportunity to have their own thoughts; they allow the reader to examine different perspectives of a situation. This causes the reader to believe that there actually might not be a point, or that there is maybe a very simple point trying to be made through out the essay. But the reality is that each of these four authors lead the reader to an idea or a thought with the way they use words, and evidence.
All of these essays have one thing in common; there are people who are faced with prejudice. But they also carry a message to convince the reader that prejudice should be abolished. I have concluded that the effect on a reader's mind regarding prejudice after reading something depends entirely on the fact whether the person has or hasn't experienced a prejudicial situation. It doesn't matter whether the person is the victim or the perpetrator, the effect that the reading will have on either of them will be far more than a third person reading the same thing but hasn't been in a similar situation. Other than that, the nature of the article, the build-up to the epilogue and the relevance of the situation also play a key role in convincing the reader to take up the moral lesson and add it to their moral values. Staples' essay serves as a perfect example in this case. If a person who had read his essay experienced or inflicted a similar act of racial discrimination, there is a great chance that they would draw a moral lesson out of it and apply it for the betterment of themselves and their society.
Angelou, Maya. "Graduation." "Occasions for Writing: Evidence, Idea, Essay." DiYanni, Robert, and Pat C. Hoy. Boston, MA: Thomson Heinle, (2008).335-342. Print.
Hurston, Zora. "How It Feels To Be Colored Me." "Occasions for Writing: Evidence, Idea, Essay." DiYanni, Robert, and Pat C. Hoy. Boston, MA: Thomson Heinle, (2008). 159-161. Print.
Kincaid, Jamaica. "On Seeing England For The First Time." "Occasions for Writing: Evidence, Idea, Essay." DiYanni, Robert, and Pat C. Hoy. Boston, MA: Thomson Heinle, (2008).720-727. Print.
Staples, Brent. "Just Walk On By." "Occasions for Writing: Evidence, Idea, Essay." DiYanni, Robert, and Pat C.…