What are the similarities and differences between Anne Moody and her mother in the autobiography Coming of Age in Mississippi?

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Coming of Age in Mississippi was written in 1968 and is civil rights activist Anne Moody’s memoir about life as an African American child and then a young woman growing up in poverty in the rural South. The memoir chronicles her life from ages four to twenty-three.

Anne Moody was born in 1940 in the rural South to a poor African American family. She is socially aware and intolerant of the racism and discrimination she suffers and observes around her. But it is specifically the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 that prompts Anne to join the civil rights movement. Anne is a strong-willed, independent, intelligent young woman who wants to end oppression. She goes on to college, and from there, she joins the civil rights movement.

Mama Moody, the mother of Anne and five other siblings, typifies the older generation of African Americans living in Mississippi. Like Anne, Mama is a strong woman. After her husband leaves her, Mama works a number of jobs and raises her children on her own. She and Anne share the same strength of will. However, despite the poverty, she is too scared to fight against inequality. Mama doesn’t want to leave the community in which she lives and is unhappy when Anne goes off to college and then goes on to join the civil rights movement. Mama fears that joining the movement means that Anne will never be able to return home. It is the conflict between Anne and Mama that is central to the book.

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Anne and her mother represent two different attitudes of African Americans in the 1950s and 60s South. Both experience the triumph, danger, power, and uncertainty of the Civil Rights Movement, but Anne represents a forward-thinking attitude (the future), while her mother represents a more conservative attitude (the past).

Both women experience life as African American women in the 1950s and 60s South. They are also both hardworking and care deeply about their families and the black community as a whole. For example, Anne works tirelessly for racial justice, while her mother works to support her family.

Their views on how to serve the African American community, however, are where they differ. Anne's mother carries a traditional belief in "keeping your head down" to "stay out of trouble." Because of this, she behaves in the ways "expected" of a black woman at her time. She believes that organizations like the NAACP will only bring trouble and danger for the community and her family. Anne, however, embraces the liberal ideas of the time, attending NAACP events, working for CORE, and attending college. She believes these new movements and ideas will improve life for her people and her family.

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Anne Moody and her mother, whom she calls Mama, are both incredibly strong-willed and determined. Mama raises Anne and her other children after her husband deserts her. She is able to support her children through backbreaking labor as a domestic servant and as a worker in a cafe, and she works from breakfast to supper for only $5 a week. However, she never gives up. Anne shares her mother's determination. She is determined to change the way that African American people live, and she risks her life to work in the Civil Rights movement.

Though they share a sense of determination and strength, Anne and her mother differ because Mama is opposed to Anne's work in the Civil Rights movement. Like many people of the older generation, Mama is worried that Anne's activities will result in harm for her family. Frightened, she tells her daughter to avoid speaking out in front of whites. However, Anne is committed to the movement and goes against her mother's wishes. Even though Mama asks Anne to drop out of the movement, Anne does not listen to her.

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Anne and her mother represent the African American attitude of the future and the past, respectively. Growing up in the midst of the civil rights movement, Anne and her mother experience the turmoil, emotion and danger of being African American in the south during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Mother and daughter are definitely more different than they are alike. However, they share the fact that they both care deeply about the well-being of African Americans in the South. Anne's mother loves her family and wants the best for them as does Anne. Likewise, they are both hardworking women who will work whatever job necessary to support the family. 

However, the differences between Anne and her mother stem from the beliefs they have about what is best for the family and for the African American culture at large. Anne's mother can best be described as from the "do not rock the boat" mindset and conforms to the expected behaviors for someone of her race and gender. She sees the unfairness in the world but believes actions taken against the wrongs will make things worse. Anne does whatever she feels will better the state of existence for her family and African Americans. She is not worried about "rocking the boat" and challenges traditional behaviors and attitudes in efforts to gain equality for her people. Unlike her mother, where Anne sees unfairness in the world, she is called to take action, believing she can make the world a better place. 

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