Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Extensive Reading

The short story “Names”






The author

Born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928, Maya was an American author and poet who has been called “America’s most visible black female autobiographer”. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), brought her international recognition, and was nominated for a National Book Award. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie.

in http://www.poemhunter.com/maya-angelou/(shortened)



Find some more poems here:


Watch this video that will give you a quick view of her life and career.



  • How many ‘defeats’ did she have to face in her life?
  • How did she manage to overcome them?
  • How many different occupations did she have?
  • How successful was she?






Marguerite at 10



One of her many stories about her childhood, this one focus on the period she lived with her maternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, a typical Southern town in the late 1930s where Negros were tolerated as a source of cheap labour meant to make white domination last as long as possible.







 Watching the film “Twelve Years a Slave” might be a good introduction to study of Maya’s story.

How vital was slavery for Southern states’ economy?

How many different forms can racism take?

How important is/was someone’s name?





The context




See if you can complete this timeline regarding Black American History.


The Long Way to Freedom

1619 –   First blacks land in America

1763 -1837 – American War Independence.

1860 / 65 – ______________________.

1863 – Emancipation Proclamation is signed by _____________________.

1865 – 13th Amendment abolishes slavery in all US territory.

1868 – 14th Amendment granted blacks citizenship.

1866 – ____________________ (group/organisation) was created to defend white supremacy.

1870 – 15th Amendment guaranteed their right to vote.

Jim Crow laws passed in the Southern states segregating blacks and whites in most public places.

1939 / 45 – World War II – Black Americans are incorporated.

1954 – the United States Supreme Court outlawed segregation in the  nation’s school systems

1955 – Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat to a white on a segregated bus

  • Montgomery bus boycott led by ________________________________

1955 / 63 – Civil Rights Movement

1963 – March on Washington

1964 – Civil Rights Act signed.

1965 – ____________________ assassinated.

1968 – Martin Luther King is assassinated



The plot

Reorder the following episodes according to the structure of the story “NAMES”.

  • Margaret/Marguerite breaks Mrs Cullinan’s favourite china pieces.
  • The girl learned everything about the house.
  • Mrs Cullinan calls the girl the wrong name.
  • The girl exits Mrs Cullinan’s house leaving the door wide open.
  • A white man from Texas asks Maya about her roots.
  • Bailey helps her sister to think of a plan to get fired.
  • One of Mrs Cullinan’s friends suggests changing the girl’s name.
  • Margaret/Marguerite discovers her mistress is unable to have children.
  • Miss Glory is hit by a flying china shard.
  • Maya recalls the period when she worked as a housemaid.




The characters


Which adjectives describe these three characters psychologically?


sensitive  tolerant loyal  ingenuous unhappy  lively
selfish   critical  vindictive meticulous  friendly  perceptive  sympathetic  snobbish heartless  frustrated  influenceable submissive   tolerant  lonely 


Mrs Cullinan:


Miss Glory:




What is the main theme of the story?

What signs or evidence can you find in the story of that?





What kind of language  is used  in the short story?

Only one type?

Is there any class division visible in the language?



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