Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

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Questions and Answers High School: Chapters 10 – 17

Study Questions
1. Emmett Till’s murder and Jerry’s harassment show Anne that the deck is stacked against blacks in Mississippi. How are these men punished for acts that white men freely commit? What is the violence against them supposed to teach blacks?

2. When Anne returns to Centreville from a summer away and asks her family about Benty and Rosetta, an interracial couple who have been run out of town, her mother gets upset and won’t discuss the topic. How does this reveal Anne's character and foreshadow her family’s response to her growing frustration with southern racism?

3. Anne lives in a tense environment where several hard-to-avoid topics are taboo subjects of discussion. Name at least three issues that concern her that she cannot discuss with family or friends in her repressed environment.

4. Mrs. Burke becomes meaner and more manipulative in this section of the book as she tries to humiliate Anne into accepting “her place” in society. Name three things she does to try and scare Anne into conforming to the role of a subservient black domestic.

5. Anne’s independence causes difficulty with both her biological and stepparents. Give examples of how she is isolated within her family and how that helps build her character.

Answers
1. Emmett Till is murdered for flirting with a white woman, and Jerry is beaten up on suspicion of making calls to a white woman’s house—something he didn’t do. Yet Anne notes that white men take black mistresses and even rape black women at will. She despises the irony in how the white men who are punishing black men behave in their own personal lives.

2. Anne’s mother would prefer she not ask difficult questions, opting instead to accept the status quo. While her mother is afraid of the consequences of opposing racism, Anne wants to confront it. This establishes a tension with her family that will heighten in future chapters: When Anne becomes an activist, Mama and Adline write her and beg her to stop, but her family’s complacency only succeeds in angering her.

3. First, Anne can’t freely discuss white oppression of blacks with her family; until Emmett Till’s death, for instance, she had been told that blacks’ deaths resulted from “the evil spirit” coming after them. Secondly, she learns that many blacks are trying to change the status quo through the NAACP, but that the organization is both dangerous and powerful. The teacher who tells her about it leaves mysteriously at the end of the school year, and lynching victim Samuel O’Quinn is a suspected member. Third, Anne’s sexuality and body attract attention from both Raymond and her coach, Mr. Hicks. Neither man is physically inappropriate toward her, but Raymond’s hostility toward...

(The entire section is 715 words.)