| Quote #1
Horatio Alger was the greatest writer in the world. His heroes were always good, always won, and were always boys. (12.24)
Maya notices pretty early in life that male heroes are always swashbuckling, while princesses are always standing around looking pretty. She would much rather be swashbuckling, and she's not shy about it—gender identity is a big issue for her.
| Quote #2
The gamblers in pinstriped suits and their makeup-deep women whispered to me out of blood-red mouths that now I knew as much as they did. I was eight, and grown. (12.6)
Um, those ladies are creepy. Why does Maya feel like an adult at age eight? Is it because of the rape, or are there a variety of factors? What else makes you an adult?
| Quote #3
Momma hadn't thought that taking off my dress in front of Mrs. Flowers would kill me stone dead. If I had refused, she would have thought I was trying to be "womanish" and might have remembered St. Louis. (15.31)
What is being "womanish," anyway? Why is it so bad?