Gather Together in My Name

by Maya Angelou

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Which characters in Gather Together in My Name are static and which are dynamic?

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Gather Together in My Name is Angelou's memoir of late adolescence; as such, Angelou (who refers to herself as the character Rita) is herself a dynamic character as she recollects this period of transformation. Another character, Rita's momentary lover R.L. Poole, goes from being her dance partner and confidant to reverting to a past state that she does not understand. He returns to his former lover, an action which renders him both dynamic and static.

Angelou portrays a couple of the individuals she meets as static characters in order to point at their differences which both frustrated and enlightened her and were essential to her formation of identity. One such figure is Angelou's grandmother. Unable to internalize an imperative to protest racial injustice of any kind, whether systemic or blatantly inflicted, her grandmother judges Rita whenever she uses her voice to expose the injustices of white privilege.

Other characters, such as the various drug addicts Rita meets, are "static" in that they are merely brief character sketches; Rita did not interact with them long enough to flesh them out as individuals. That being said, it is notable that, at the end of the memoir, Rita philosophically rejects the notion that anyone can be truly static beyond the limits of the written word. She reunites with her three-year-old son and is struck with a transformative insight: her son lived to become three not because of her, but despite her. Rita therefore reveals an awareness of the realness and dignity of the subjects that live beyond her purview.

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