Form and Content
Maya Angelou’s Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas is a twenty-nine-chapter autobiography that sketches the author’s early traumatic youth growing up in Stamps, Arkansas, where she was raped at the age of seven and then stopped talking for several years. Because detailed information about her childhood and young adulthood is covered in her earlier autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) and Gather Together in My Name (1974), the focus of Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas is from the late 1940’s to the mid-1950’s. During these years, Angelou concentrated on the singing and acting aspects of her career—as a sales clerk at a San Francisco record store, a showgirl imitating Cleopatra at the Garden of Allah, and a nightclub singer calling herself “Rita—The Cuban Bombshell.” These humble beginnings led to employment at the Mars Club in Paris and a chorus part in the Broadway musical Porgy and Bess. Angelou chronicles her travels throughout Canada and Europe, describing her tour with this company.
Although the book is divided into chapters, Angelou arranges her material much like a series of diary entries. She often presents characters and situations that are abandoned until much later in the book, if they are returned to at all. Through her ability to laugh at herself and the world around her, she is a reliable narrator, yet her anger...
(The entire section is 462 words.)