chapter one summary
- when maya was 3 and bailey was 4 years old, parents divorced & were sent to mommas to live there.
- on the train alone from california to stamps, Arkansas
- half way witha porter and the other half alone with paper signs stuck to them labeling their final destination
- momma owns & runs only store in the town
- store is centre of community
- momma one of most respected residents
- momma wakes up 4am during to sell sandwiches to black cotton labourers during cotton- harvesting season.
- in mornings the cotton pickers are full of energy but by the end of the day they can barely get home.
- they earn less than they should- struggle to pay debts.
- steroptype of happy cotton pickers inrages maya
1 of 36
chapter two summary
- Willie, mommas disabled son becomes **** of jokes in community
- maya returns home from schol one day to see willie hiding his disablity from customers in the store- maya symphazises with him and understands his struggles
- she feels closer to him now knowing how he feels.
- maya falls in love with reading
- she likes william shakespeare- feels guilty as hes a white man.
2 of 36
chapter three summary
- one afternoon, Mr.Steward, a white former sheriff, comes to warn momma that the white people are on a rampage as a black man has messed with a white woman.
- she hides willie is potato bin so they dont start on him as hes black
- luckiy they dont go into the store.
3 of 36
chapter four summary
- maya hears she is ugly constantly.
- ***** hair,dark skin,large for her age.
- bailey- small, attractive child
- bailey always insults the person picking on maya
- maya sees bailey as the most important person in her life.
4 of 36
chapter five summary
- momma believes children should follow rules and respect elders
- poor white children dont follow this.
- annoys maya to hear them disrespect momma& willie by calling them by their first names.
- when mayas 10, children mock mooma and she sends maya inside the store as its angering her.
- momma stands there and does nothing
- one girl does a handstand and she shows that she is not wearing underwear this infuriates maya
- momma fought and won the battle with the children.
5 of 36
chapter six revision
- Reverend Howard Thomas, visits momma.
- disliked by maya and bailey as he is gready and eats all the best bits of sunday dinner.
6 of 36
chapter seven summary
- Momma dont think its safe for blacks to talk to whites.
- she dont speak harshly about whites, just refers to them as they.
- a black man accussed off assulating a white woman and stayed in mommas store to hide.
- when he left he was arrested and in court he made it clear he had been staying at mrs Hendersons
- people only call them mrs when their white showing momma is highly respected in the community.
7 of 36
chapter eight summary
- at christmas their parents send gifts
- children cry outside, wondering what they did wrong to be sent away
- momma stopped them from being ungrateful
- they couldnt stop thinking about how their parents are enjoying christmas somewhere else without their children
- they later destroy the gifts
8 of 36
chapter nine summary
- big bailey visits stamps
- has his own car and speaks like a white person
- height and manly features shock maya
- stays for 3 weeks
- tells maya and bailey he is driving them to st louis to see their mum
- momma is sad but tells them to behave.
- maya cant believe he is her dad sees him as a stranger
- bailey gets on with big bailey and laughs and jokes with him
- when maya sees her mum, vivian, she is mesmerised by her beauty.
- bailey falls in love with her
- big bailey leaves for california for few days
- maya feels like she has been digt by another stranger
9 of 36
chapter ten summary
- arrived in st.louis during heyday of prohibition
- bailey and maya meet all kinds of crime
- grandmother baxter entertains the men and has influence with police
- vivians brothers have city jobs, positions that are rarely given to blacks
- have a reputation for crime, beating up both races
- they treat the children well and tell them stories from childhood
- uncle tommy tells maya not to worry about not being pretty as she is smart.
- bailey and maya live with grandparents for 6 months before moving in with vivian and her boyfriend Mr freeman.
- mr freeman feels insecure about his relaytionship with vivian
- change in location dont affect maya, never feels like she belongs anywhere
- feels like she and bailey are ment to be different to everyone else.
10 of 36
chapter eleven summary
- maya starts reading fairytales and tells her =self she dont intend to stay in st louis
- vivian works in a gambling parlor at night
- maya feels sorry for mr freeman as he waits all day for vivian to get home
- maya sleeps in vivians and mr freemans bed at night as she gets nightmares
- one morning vivian leaves for work and mr freeman masturbates holding her close to him while he does
- afterwards he threatens to kill bailey if she tells anyone
- maya dont know what happened but enjoyed being held by someoneand feeling wanted
- he ignores her for weeks then molesters her again
- but then ignores her againn
- she feels rejected and hurt
- gets losted in books to forget
- wishs she was a boy as all the heroes in the books are boys
- bailey has made new friends
- her and bailey grow apart
- she spends saturdays in the libary.
11 of 36
chapter twelve summary
- in late spring, vivian stays out all night
- mr freeman sends maya to get milk when she gets back he rapes her.
- threatens to kill her if she screams
- threatens to kill bailey if she tells anyone
- he sends her to the libary but cannot cope with intense pain between legs
- she hides bloody underwear under vivians matteress
- vivian thinks maya is getting measles
- maya hears vivian and mr freeman arguing, he finds out the next morning he has moved out
- when bailey trys to change the bed sheets the pants fall out from underneath the matteress.
12 of 36
chapter thirteen summary
- vivian takes maya to hospital
- bailey begs her to give the rapists name, promising the rapistist wont kill him
- she reveals who it was and mr freeman is arrested
- maya feels trapped when attorney asked whether there was any sexual incidents prior
- she fears rejection off family so lies in court
- mr freeman sentenced to one year and one day
- he is temporarliy released after the hearing
- later that evening the police arrive to inform that mr freeman had been beaten to death
- the family swiftly change the subject
- family never speaks of the incident
- maya convinced he was killed because sje lied in order to condemn him
- she decides to not speak to anyone apart from bailey to protect them from her lies
- family accept her silence as part of shock of the **** however after time they become offended and angry and violent towards her
13 of 36
chapter fourteen summary
- maya and bailey return to stamps
- maya unsure if momma sent for them or her mother cant handle her silence anymore
- maya relieved to be back but bailey misses vivian
- bailey exaggerates the big city to curious residents, he has a sarcastic tone but no one notices his insults
- he remains kind to maya
- she understands his frustration and he understands her silence
14 of 36
chapter fifteen summary
- mrs bertha flowers offers to get maya out of her silence
- invites maya to her house
- gives her books and tells her to read them out loud
- maya happy she made cookies just for her
- mrs flowers assigns her to remember a poem she will recite on her next visit
- maya returns full of joy to the store with a bag of cookies
- using her voice she tells bailey there is cookies for him
- momma gets angry and whips maya as she used a phrase she believes is offencive to god.
15 of 36
chapter sixteen summary
- maya works in mrs viola cullinans home.
- miss glory the cook tells maya mrs cullinans couldnt have children and she feels sorry for her
- mrs cullinans friends anger maya as they suggest she should be called mary as margret is too long
- maya corrects them and says her name is margariute
- mrs cullinans starts calling her mary which makes her furious
- she knows momma wont let her quit but she wants to.
- finds anyway to get fired
- slacks in her work but its not noticed
- breaks mrs cullinans heirloom china, she gets angry and becomes racist towards maya
- mrs cullinans friends hear her sob and scream, they crowd in the kitchen
- one asks if mary is responsible and mrs cullinans replies with her name is margaret
16 of 36
- one night bailey stays out after dark
- willie and momma dont mention their concern
- momma and maya go out looking for him
- find him strolling home
- doesnt give any reason for being late.
- he recieves a whipping
- maya sees him have no soul for a few days
- later bailey tells maya he was out watching a film with a white actress in, kay francis, who looks like vivian and he stayed out late to watch it a second time
- they waited for another kay francis film to come out
- maya laughs at irony that a white woman can look like a black woman
- movie delights maya but saddens bailey
- on the way home bailey scares maya by runnig acroos a track that has a moving railway car on it
- maya fears he will jump on a railway car in the future and leave
- a year later he boards a boxcar but lands in baton rouge for 2 weeks.
17 of 36
chapter eighteen summary
- annual revivial meeting interrupts everyones daily lives in stamps
- people from black churches attend
- preacher delievers a speech on admonishing those who practice false charity
- everyone knows its against white christian hypocrisy
- they give to poor blakc swith high expectations
- speech promises revenge and justice
- after prechers announces the unsaved must come forward and choice the church they want to join
- after everyone shows their righteousness
- but when they make a noise their heads fall and silents happens, sensing another sin in the black world.
- maya sees it as the people that attend are trying to escape thier harsh lives.
18 of 36
chapter nineteen summary
- people cram inside the store to listen to the heavyweight boxing match
- all hoping joe louis, the blakc hero defends his title
- maya says if louis looses then everything the whites say about blacks will be true
- louis wins the fight
- everyone in the sore celebrates
- maya says louis proves blacks are the most powerful in the world.
19 of 36
chapter twenty summary
- in the annual summer fish fry, women show their baking and men fish in the nearby pond
- during this time maya wonders off from the music and noise to a clearing and sits in the trees
- she meets louise kendricks
- at first they are both shy
- but soon they are holding hands and and spinning around
- they become best friends
- in 7th grade she recieves a note from 8th grader tommy valdon asking her to be his valentine
- she shows louise and she says it means love.
- maya says not ever again- not explaining it
- they tear note in tiny pieces and throws it in the wind.
- on valentines day mayas teacher reads out all the valentines cards
- tommy had sent maya another one saying he seen her rip the other one up and that he doesnt think she meant to hurt him
- he considers her as his valentine even though she didnt reply
- she decides to flirt with him but his crush is becoming weak.
20 of 36
chapter twenty one summary
- bailey makes a tent in the yard
- begins playing aexual games with girls
- he is the father, the girl is the mother and maya is the baby who keeps guard
- six months later he looses his virgiinity to joyce and older more developed girl
- he starts stealing things from the store for her
- after few months she disapears
- her aunt tells momma she has ran away with a railroad porter she met in the store
- bailey is heartbroken
- momma shocked she didnt notice it happening in her store
- maya didnt like her and hates her for leaving and hurting bailey
21 of 36
chapter twenty two summary
- one stormy night george taylor comes to the sroe and stays the night
- he is morning the loss of his wife
- momma urges him to be grateful for the years he had with his wife
- they didnt not have children
- he tells momma he seen florida, his wife, the previous day and she told him she wanted children
- momma and willie ask if it was a dream but he claims to be awake
- maya hates ghost stories but this scares her
- maya goes to her funeral
- momma insists she goes as florida left a yellow brooch for her.
- her first confrontation with death
- returning from memory of funeral she hears mr taylor narrating his experience
- night before he saw a blue eyed, fat blond baby angel laughing at him
- mrs taylor was there talking to the baby nd making it laugh and in the end she says she wants a baby
22 of 36
chapter twenty three summary
- black families in stamps see 8th graduation as a big thing
- maya takes a seat in the school hall, feeling uneasy
- the white speaker, mr. edward donleavy gives a speech about the improvements to the local schools
- he claims many people from mayas school have become good athletes
- maya feels like her only hope in life is within sport
- the whole class is in shame
- maya thinks she has no control over her life
- Henry reeds validectory speech lightens the mood
- but maya is stilll in a bad mood
- he continues to speak with clarity
- after he turns to the class behind him and gets them to sing "ev'ry voice and sing"- popular ***** national anythem
- maya listens for the first time and takes pride in her community.
23 of 36
chapter twenty four summary
- maya gets toothache
- nearest denist is 25 miles away for blacks
- momma takes her to a white denist instead
- in great depression momma loaned money to many people including dr lincoln
- momma thinks he owes her a favour
- when they get there he tells them he wont work on her mouth because she is black
- he would rather work on a dogs mouth than a black persons.
24 of 36
chapter twenty five summary
- bailey returns from errand shoke up
- he had just seen a rotting dead mans body from the pond
- a white man ordered bailey to help him put him on a wagon
- the man pretends he isgoing to lock bailey up with the dead an
- afterwards momma plans a trip for bailey and maya to california to live with their mother.
25 of 36
chapter twenty six summary
- momma lives in la with bailey and maya whilst vivian works out arrangements
- bsiley and maya start to see vivians insercuirities and fears
- vivian concerned for their well being
- she has trained as a nurse but works in gambling parlour
26 of 36
chapter twenty seven and eight summary
- comments on changes to usa since start of ww2
- she says no one talks about japanese displacement
- says black community pay no attnetion to japanese as blacks focus on advancing themselves
- constant change of displacement during wartime
- san fransico makes maya feel at home for the first time
- when arrives at schhol she gets put up a year
- soon sent to a white school and was one of three black children.
- white students are aggresive and better educated
- miss kirwin treated all the studets fairly and didnt look at race.
- at 14 maya recieved a schoolarship to california labour school where she studied drama and dance.
27 of 36
chapter twenty nine summary
- daddy cildell becomes only real father figure to maya.
- he intruduces maya to his con men friends
- maya doesnt see them as criminals as they have always been treated badly from the start due to their race.
28 of 36
chapter thirty summary
- big bailey invites maya to mexico for the sumer.
- she will be meeting his new girlfriend dolores
- maya and dolores send letters in anticipation of the greeting
- the appreanances they described in the letters were the opposite to what they look like- shocked
- big bailey plans to marry dolores but keeps postponning the planning
- they live in a mobile home
- dolores likes to keep the place clean and tidy
- mayas a messy person so they take a dislike from the start
- big bailey makes many trips into mexico to get groceries
- one day he invites maya along, making dolores jealous
- he jokingly asks maya to marry him.
- he stops at ensenada were everyone warmly welcomes him, he shows his true self.
- maya starts to enjoy hersel but then looses her dad and gets frightened so sits in the car and waits for him
- he comes back very drunk and passes out in the car
29 of 36
chapter thirty summary part 2
- maya drives 50 miles to the border even she has never driven before
- she had a small accident at the check point
- at this point big bailey wakes up and sorts the matter
- he is not suprised or angry about the accident
- he is not suprised she can drive
- maya annoyed he is appreciative of her achievement
- ride home is silent
30 of 36
chapter thirty one summary
- maya hears arguement betwwen big bailey and dolores
- dorlores feels like maya has come between them.
- big bailey leaves and dolores crys
- maya tells her she never ment to get in between them- feels good for being nice
- dolores calls vivian a whore
- maya warns her that she will slap her then she actually does.
- dolores then stabs her with a pair of scissors
- maya runs to her dads car and locks herself in while bleeding
- big bailey hers the screaming so returns to investigate
- he takes maya to a friends house who bandages her wound
- after they go to another friends house where she stays the night
- next morning big bailey comes and gives her some money and tells her he will be back that evening
- maya dont want to face her dads friend so packs her stuff and some food and leaves
- she knows she cant go to her mums as it will cause arguements between her and big bailey
31 of 36
chapter thirty two summary
- after leaving her dads friends house she spends the night in a car in a junkyard
- when she wakes up there is gangs of black mexicans and white homeless teenagers laughing at her
- they tell her she can stay there as long as she follows the rules: opposite sex cannot sleep together, stealing is forbidden, everyone works,
- she stays for a month
- everyone enters dance contenst on saturdays
- maya and her partner come second on her last weekend
- she learns about diversty
- at end of month she rings her mum and asks her to pay for her airfare back to california
32 of 36
chapter thirty three summary
- maya says she has changed a lot since the start of the summer
- she says bailey has changed a lot more though
- they have different personalities now
- but both still like dancing
- bailey seeks vivians approval by wearing fancy chlothes and dating a white prostitue- mimicing life of her male friends
- vivian unware of what she has caused her son to do
- she asks him to stop dating the white prositue but he says no and starts disobeying rules
- he then moves out
- they quickly make up and she promises to get him a job in the south pacific
- maya upset that he has moved out but doesnt show it
- bailey is certain he is mature enough and that its time to leave
33 of 36
chapter thirty four summary
- maya takes a term off from school to work
- certain she will get a car conductor job even though there is a racist policy against it
- she succeeds in finding a job in san francisco and becoes first black streetcar conductor
- when returing to school she feels out of place
- an american black women says she dont just have to deal with teenagfe problems she has to deal with sexism and racism aswell
- blakc women that survive these problems become strong
34 of 36
chapter thirty five summary
- the well of lonliness is mayas first intro to lesbianism
- she doesnt understand
- fears she may be one
- confuses with hermaphrodite
- she has a deep voice, underdeveloped breast and hips and no under arm hair
- asks vivian about wierd growth on ******- says its normal
- she decides to get a boyfriend to settle the lesbian matter
- this doesnt help her fears
- a few weeks later she finds out sh is pregnant
35 of 36
chapter thirty six summary
- accepts full responsiblilty of pregnancy
- writes to bailey for advice
- vivian disikes abortion but basiley thinks it will stop her schooling
- she throws herself into school
- after graduation she admits she is 8 months pregnant
- vivian and daddy cildell accept her pregnancy
- gives birth to a son
- fascinated and afraid to touch him
- vivian makes her sleep with her 3 week old son
- fears she wil crush him
- attempts to stay up all night but fails
- vivian wakes her later on showing her how he sleeps in the crook of her arm
- she tells maya not worry becuase if her heart is in the right place she will do the right thing regardless
- she peacefully returns to sleep with her son.
36 of 36