My Name Is Margaret
We as people identify with our name in many ways. Our name is what connects us to our family, and we are the image that is associated with our name. In the passage, Mrs. Viola’s friend sees a lack of importance in calling Margaret by her actual name, as “that may be, but the name’s too long. I’d never bother myself. I’d call her Mary if I was you. ” In doing this, “Old Speckled-Face,” as Margaret called her, attempts to dehumanize her and exemplifies the standard way of thinking of the common, rich white people in the 60’s and 70’s.
In seeing Margaret’s name as something that doesn’t matter, being that her name is who she is, she therefore makes Margaret ‘not matter’. The author’s indignation toward her employer for impertinently renaming her substantiates Marguerite’s strong sense of self-pride, now revealed in the face of racism. Angelou’s reaction to her Mrs. Viola’s renaming exhibits the subtle forms of resistance that blacks could use. In a sense, Mrs.
Cullinan’s kitchen served as a finishing school for Margaret because black girls “were given as extensive and irrelevant preparations for adulthood as rich white girls shown in magazines. The difference was that many white girls learned about more high-class habits, while black girls learned housekeeping. In being a servant in Mrs. Cullinan’s kitchen, she learns the same things that white girls would learn at finishing school. Angelou describes Mrs. Cullinan’s house as “exact” and “inhuman” to articulate her ideas that white people are very different from black people.
She also makes the assumption that all white people are caddy, shallow, and lonely, based on her experiences with the white ladies on the porch, which may indicate some bias changing the actual story due to racism. At first, Margaret decides that she will write a poem about the tragedy of “being white, fat, old, and without children,” due to the fact that she sees Mrs. Cullinan as living a miserable, pathetic lifestyle. But after standing up for Margaret by insisting her friend address her by the proper name, she finds a new respect for Mrs. Cullinan. Mrs.
Cullinan believes that she has regained control over Margaret, however, she has in fact let go of her symbol of power over Angelou. Mrs. Angelou regains her name, and with that, her sense of self. Though she was treated wrongly by her employer and her snooty friends, Angelou reveals herself to have racist prejudice and a tendency to incorporate them into her writing, as shown in her narrative. * Alliteration * “Impish elf” * Used to bring the reader’s attention to the fact that this is when Mrs. Cullinan turns into a different person, which is the person that her white friends see Motif * Repetition of “Mary” and “Margaret” * Used to show the two sides that Angelou struggles with as she fights to maintain her identity in a world of prejudice * Diacope * “This cup went here and only here” * Used to show how Angelou perceives her employer as being single-minded * Asyndeton * “There were goblets, sherbet glasses, ice-cream glasses, wine glasses, green glass coffee cups with matching saucers, and water glasses. ” * Used to emphasize the “extensive and irrelevant” things that white people find essential to function living