Study Guide

Alone Stanza 3

By Maya Angelou

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Stanza 3

Lines 14-15

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use

  • Think this poem is only about the speaker? Oh, no. Everyone – even the millionaire – gets discussed when the speaker tackles this particular problem.
  • Why pick on millionaires? Well, they're sort of a stand-in for the people who are supposedly happy and successful. After all, they make millions! But how do they really fare in the world? Let's find out…

Lines 16-17

Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues

  • Well, it turns out that they don't fare so well.
  • A "banshee" is a rather loud and annoying spirit who wails – loudly – and tends to show up when someone is about to die. They're rather unpopular figures in Irish mythology. In other words, they're not all that much fun to be around.
  • And then we get to the kids. As far as our speaker is concerned, the kids are isolated and singing their own "blues."
  • It turns out that this "family" of millionaires is actually isolated and fragmented. Each person operates on his or her own. There's no sense of community.

Lines 18-19

They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.

  • Hmm. So, it turns out that these problems are not, in fact, medical problems. More importantly, as far as our speaker is concerned, the choice to fix your body without fixing your soul is a big, big mistake.
  • We've got to admit, our speaker has a point. If you think about it, healthcare is sort of omnipresent these days. If you're feeling sad, try some antidepressants. If you look too old, there's always Botox.
  • Believe us, medicine has a valuable place in society. We're the first ones to sign up for flu shots! But when the speaker talks about the rich people's "hearts of stone," we're guessing that she's speaking metaphorically. She's not interested in the heart as a giant muscle. She's interested in that thing the Tin Man was missing in The Wizard of Oz – a heart that helps you connect and feel.

Lines 20-22

But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

  • …hmmm. We feel like we've heard this one before.
  • Moral of this particular story: the speaker can't make it alone. And rich people can't make it alone, either.
  • You could think of this part of the stanza as a sort of checking back in with the central message of the poem: the speaker tells a little story, and then this chorus comes back to hammer home the point. We all experience the same sort of isolation.

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