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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

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Chapter 8: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. How were Stamps, Arkansas, and Chitlin’ Switch, Georgia, alike?

2. What did the writer mean when she said “a Negro couldn’t buy vanilla ice cream”?

3. What was the difference between giving “in the Negro neighborhood” and the giving done by the whites?

4. What color, according to Marguerite, was God?

5. When did the “Negro community” finally realize that the Depression had come to Stamps?

6. Why did the people quit raising hogs?

7. How did Mrs. Henderson keep the Store going when the people of the community had only food from the welfare agencies instead of money?

8. Why did Marguerite think Uncle Willie was vain?

9. Why did Marguerite and Bailey eat the powdered eggs from the welfare when their family was not on welfare?

10. What did the children receive from their father on that “terrible Christmas”?

1. Both towns contained prejudiced people. Segregation and prejudice seemed to be a way of life in the Depression-era South.

2. The white people were so prejudiced that they would not allow “a Negro” to buy ice cream that was white. The ways of the segregated South of the 1930s were deeply set and would be hard to change.

3. “In the Negro neighborhood” a gift that was given was probably as desperately needed by the one who gave as by the one who received; whites, on the other hand, could spend money lavishly—according to Marguerite’s way of thinking.

4. According to Marguerite, God was white.

5. The “Negro community” knew the Depression had come when cotton dropped from ten cents to eight, to seven, and finally to five cents.

6. The people quit trying to raise hogs because they could not afford to buy food for them.

7. Mrs. Henderson kept the Store going by allowing the people to use their powdered milk, powdered eggs, and cans of mackerel for trade in the store.

8. Marguerite thought Uncle Willie was vain when she had to iron seven starched white shirts and not iron any wrinkles into the material.

9. Marguerite and Bailey had to eat the eggs because Mrs. Henderson took them for trade and most people would trade them (not buy or eat the eggs themselves) because they tasted so bad.

10. The children’s father sent them a picture of himself.

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Chapter 9: Questions and Answers