English Literature - Maya Angelou

Themes, key quotes, language and structure briefly recapped... 

Any suggestions? please say so!

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  • Created by: Mizgin
  • Created on: 10-05-11 19:08

Poem 1 - 'Junkie Monkey Reel'

Two main themes covered in this poem seem to be drugs and social class issues... 

I thought this poem was about drug use, but if there are any other ideas I am open to them so please just let me know :)

"Weighted needling"

"murder is its sweet romance" - so into the drugs that they see it as being 'sweet', maybe only escape from deprived background? depression? possibly emotional insecurity too...


"unguarded fears"... drugs users are like slaves; controlled by these drugs now. The poem immediately starts off with a dark and depressive tone... there are many semantic fields; see if you can spot some! 

The free verse and unstructured layout seems to symbolise the persona's life... unpredictable, uncontrollable and simply no routine... The last line seems to be ironic or even interrogating; maybe questioning society? 

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Poem 2 - 'The Lesson'

This poem seems to explore physical hardships, emotional pain but also adopts an inspirational tone... Some key quotes are: 

"veins collapse"

reference to "children"

"rotting flesh" - strong imagery is created here as you probably noticed too :)

"Lines along my face"

"I keep on dying,                                                                                                                                                 Because I love to live." - notice the JUXTAPOSITION - life and death...

life is to be loved despite the physical hardships - it is a game that is not easy but once we learn out 'lesson' and manage to start a new life, we can overcome other difficult experiences easily. 

Only one long stanza - like life being one long, difficult journey with no pauses... "children" highlighting the possibility of feeling being reborn after tough 'lesson's... Physical failure but psychological/emotional survival & strength.

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Poem 3 - 'Lady Luncheon Club'

Some themes covered in this poem are social class issues, society etc... (not good at pointing out themes, am I :D)

"petty cash account"

"golden watch"


"**** at ten" 

Money is clearly not a problem for these middle class women, the man/speaker is trying to speak about serious issue, hence the quotation "**** at ten", but is finding it difficult to have people listening to him. The constant use of brackets indicate the womens' ignorance. They seem to be making comments on food and drinks... Angelou therefore adopts a mocking and sarcastic tone... w/c ppl are worried about destructive and devastating issues and middle classes are too ignorant to even listen... the irony is that, in such a world, one would expect at least women to listen as, stereotypically, we would think that they are more caring so would be concerned, yet even this is not happening here...  Angelou seems to be ridiculing this... free verse; poem seems to shape itself rather than adopting a steady pattern from the start... 

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Can anyone please expand on this?

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