1. Explain the meaning of the title and why it is appropriate for the book.
2. Describe Maya at the beginning of the book and contrast her to the young lady she becomes at the end of the book.
3. Describe Momma and what influence she has on Maya’s life.
4. Maya and Bailey are near-orphans. Discuss this idea, using examples from the text to show how they are abandoned several times.
5. Describe the relationship between Maya and Bailey and how it changes in the book.
6. Maya’s guilt over the rape is compounded by her guilt over the murder of Freeman.
7. How does she react to the guilt and shame? How does Vivian react to Maya’s state of mind?
8. Using examples from the book, prove that Vivian is often an unfit mother and that Daddy bailey is an unfit father.
9. What does Mrs. Bertha Flowers do for Maya? Why is this important?
10. What kind of student is Maya? Prove your answer with examples from the book.
11. Discuss the reaction of the people in the store to Joe Louis’ victory in the boxing ring. Why is this moment so important to the people in Stamps?
12. There are several times in the book when Maya asserts her independence. Explain five of these and why they are important to her overall development.
13. Comment on southern fundamentalism and it's influence on the children’s lives.
14. Find three scenes of blatant racism in the text and discuss Maya’s reaction to each.
15. Compare and contrast Daddy Bailey and Daddy Clidell. Who is the better father?
16. Why does Maya fight for the job of conductor?
17. Why does Maya sleep with the neighborhood boy and what is the outcome?
18. From what does Maya get a sense of fulfillment at the end of the novel? Do you think it will be lasting? Why or why not?
19. Does the book end in comedy or tragedy and why?
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