Themes In What's In A Name, And Finishing School

753 Words 4 Pages
The time period leading up to, and immediately after the civil rights movement was a very difficult time to be an African American due to discrimination and segregation. The two short stories, “What’s in a Name?” and “Finishing School”, both focus on these things, however, the characters, themes and settings in which they take place are very different. Ironically, the paths these characters ultimately take in their adult lives end up very similar. Both short stories have African American people as the main characters. There is a little boy named Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in “What’s in a Name?” who “could not have been more than five or six” (Gates 6). There is a little girl named “Marguerita Johnson” in her “tenth year” (Angelou 108) in “Finishing School”. Both characters experience a situation where names, other than given names are used, and lack of respect is …show more content…
To her it was insulting to be “called out of her name”. (Angelou 110) It was just as insulting to Henry’s father to be called something other than his name.
But unlike Henry, who didn’t say anything, Marguerita did something about it. Marguerita’s brother Bailey gave her an idea on how to get fired. Marguerita “kept his instructions in mind” (Angelou 110) and when asked to serve again she took Mrs. Cullinan’s “casserole shaped like a fish and the green glass coffee cups” (Angelou 110) and “let them fall to the tiled floor”. (Angelou 110)
Both of these characters Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Maya Angelou who “was born Marguerita Johnson” (Angelou 107) have become very successful individuals. They both are writers and teach at different universities. Henry is “W. E. B. DuBois Professor of Humanities and director of the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for African American Research at Harvard”. (Gates 5) Maya “is currently on the faculty at Wake Forest University”. (Angelou 107) Due to their success, many, many people know their

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