Why does Anne feel "old" at the end of her memoir?  

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While Anne might be young from a chronological point of view, Anne's experiences have made her feel "old."  The physical and mental strain experienced from fighting racism on such an embedded level has taken its toll on her and this is evident by the end of her memoir.  The fight against Southern racism was so demonstrative on Anne's part.  This involved the idea of fighting racism in a physical manner with her participation in sit- ins and confrontations with racist Whites.  Additionally, Anne's rise in activism spurred an equal resistance from her family, something that caused even more anguish in her as she felt they could not see or embrace the larger cause that she did.  I think that this rises to a distinctly high level when they do not attend her graduation. At the same time, Anne is experiencing a great deal of challenge understanding if the movement's goal of non-violence is an acceptable end.  The idealism of Dr. King is not something that Anne can immediately embrace when she sees children killed as part of the White response to Black activism.  At the same time, Anne's constant harassment that she faces as a woman helps to bring out another dimension to the struggle that women of color face different and often converging realities within them.  This helps to take its toll on her, as well.  Add to this that Anne learns of her own anemic condition at the end of the narrative, and a physical dimension of exhaustion is evident, as well.  The conclusion of the narrative is one where age is not an effective indication of how old Anne has actually become as a result of her participation and immersion in the struggle.


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