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Quotes

Quote #1

Because of the kinds of news we filched from those hushed conversations, I was convinced that whenever Reverend Thomas came and Momma sent us to the back room they were going to discuss whitefolks and "doing it." (6.13)

Ah, "doing it." We wish Maya was able to maintain this innocence about sex. But just six chapters later, she is raped, and her entire world is turned upside down.

Quote #2

"Now, this ain't gonna hurt you much. You liked it before, didn't you?"

I didn't want to admit that I had in fact liked his holding me or that I had like his smell or the hard heart-beating, so I said nothing. (12.4-5)

We can imagine that Maya is scared out of her mind at this moment. But the emotion that adult Maya relates to us is shame.

Quote #3

Then there was the pain. A breaking and entering when even the senses are torn apart. The act of rape on an eight-year-old body is a matter of the needle giving because the camel can't. The child gives, because the body can, and the mind of the violator cannot. (12.8)

Adult Maya's abstract thinking and use of figurative language make us forget that we are hearing about her own experiences. Instead of describing the rape in detail—which is what young Maya probably would have done—she tries to conceptualize it differently. Eight-year-old Maya couldn't process what had happened, but adult Maya has had time to reflect, to heal, and to understand.

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