Why is language important to Mrs. Flowers in the excerpt “Mrs. Flowers” from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou?
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A shy and inhibited girl, Marguerite "sopped" around her environment until one day when Mrs. Flowers throws her "a lifeline" and asks specifically for Marguerite to carry her purchases home with her. But, Mrs. Flowers has brought Marguerite to her home for more than the lemonade and wafers she serves the girl; she wishes to expose Marguerite to the beauty of the spoken word. For, when voice is given to printed words, there is infused into them the "shades of deeper meaning." This is the music of words, for all art is a form of music, the melody that touches the souls.
The poet in Marguerite reacts to Mrs. Flowers's words "about the human voice infusing words. It seemed so valid and poetic." And, when Mrs. Flowers reads from The Tale of Two Cities the opening lines, the "sweet smell of vanilla" in Mrs. Flowers' house somehow seems infused into those lines of Dickens and Marguerite "tastes" in her soul the beauty of spoken language: "I heard poetry for the first time in my life." Indeed, there is a emotive quality to the spoken word that is missed if one merely reads silently. This is the lesson that Mrs. Flowers teaches Marguerite when she tells the young girl that words mean more than what is recorded on paper, just as notes mean more than what is printed on a sheet of music.
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