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Lesson Six A Lesson in Living (1)

Lesson Six
A Lesson in Living (Part One)
by Maya Angelou

School of Foreign Languages and Cultures


I. Warming-up
1. Can you describe to us an important lesson you have got in your life? Can you describe an important incident which influences your growing up in your life? Can you describe a person who profoundly influences you so far? What kind of man you admire as role model in your life?




II. Cultural Notes
1. About the author
Dr. Maya Angelou is a remarkable woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel around the world, spreading her legendary wisdom. Within the rhythm of her poetry and elegance of her prose lies Angelou's unique power to help readers of every race. Angelou captivates audiences through the vigor and sheer beauty of her words and lyrics.


2. About this text
This text is taken from Chapter 15 of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in which the author recalls one of the early influences that helped shape her career.

※I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of AfricanAmerican writer and poet Maya Angelou. In a sixvolume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 17. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a selfpossessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Know_Why_the_Cag ed_Bird_Sings

3. Civil Rights Movement in the United States

The civil rights movement in the United States includes noted legislation and organized efforts to abolish public and private acts of racial discrimination African Americans and other disadvantaged groups between 1954 to 1968, particularly in the southern United States. It is sometimes referred to as the Second Reconstruction era, echoing the unresolved issues of the Reconstruction era in the United States (1863–1877).

4. Humpty-Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty is a character in an English language nursery rhyme, probably originally a riddle and one of the best known in the English-speaking world. Though not explicitly described, he is typically portrayed as an egg and has appeared or been referred to in a large number of works of literature and popular culture.

5. Sin
A sin is an act that violates a known moral rule in a religion. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Sin can refer not only to physical actions taken, but also to thoughts and internalized motivations and feelings. Colloquially, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful". The Seven Deadly Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices (part of Christian ethics) that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin. The currently recognized version of the sins are usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

III. Reading the text
Paragraph 1. 1) Questions:
① ② ③ ④ ⑤ What kind of information do you get from this paragraph? Why is the word “Store” capitalized? Why did the writer confine herself to the four places? What kind of feeling is revealed by the metaphor? What is the meaning of the last sentence?

2) Words
Sop Inedible

3) Sentences
Then I met, or rather got to know, the lady who threw me my first life line.

这时,我遇见了,或者说是认识了扔给我第一根救生 索的那位夫人。

Paragraph 2 1) Questions
① ② ③ ④ ⑤ What is this paragraph about? What is the meaning of “grace of control”? How does the writer describes Mrs. Flowers’ “grace of control”? Which aspects are described about Mrs. Flowers? What kind of writing strategy is adopted in this paragraph to describe Mrs. Flowers?

2) Words
Aristocrat Swirl taut Wiry Voile Denim Overall

3) Sentences
She had the grace of control to appear warm in the coldest weather, and on the Arkansas summer days it seemed she had a private breeze which swirled around, cooling her. 她有着克制的优雅,使她在最冷的天气里显得温暖,而 在阿肯萨斯州的夏日里她似乎拥有自己的旋转的微风,使 她凉爽。

She was our side’s answer to the richest white women in town. (She was our black people’s match for the richest white women in town.) 她是我们黑人这边足以可以和城里最富有的白人女子匹 敌的人。

Paragraph 3 1) Questions:
① ② ③ ④ ⑤ What is the paragraph about? Which aspects of Mrs. Flowers are described in this paragraph? How does the writer describe Mrs. Flowers’ skin? What is the meaning of the second sentence? What’s your impression about Mrs. Flowers after reading this paragraph?

2) Words
Snag Ruffle

3) Phrases
Let alone

Paragraph 4 1) Questions
① ② What is the function of this paragraph? What is the meaning of the second half of this paragraph?

2) Words

Paragraph 6 to paragraph 10 1) Questions
① ② ③ ④ ⑤ What are these paragraphs about? Why does the writer say “Momma had a strange relationship with her”? What is the writer’s feeling towards that strange relationship? Why did the writer say Mrs. Flowers deserved better to be called Sister? How is two ladies different from each other according to these paragraphs?

2) Words

Deserve Alike Unceremonious Gait Bungalow Shell Porch Drift Persistently Swallow Textured Merge Melt Giggle

3) Phrases
On earth Insist on Leave out In the least Drift off From time to time

3) Sentences
With the unbalanced passion of the young, I hated her for showing her ignorance to Mrs. Flowers. (Like other young people who are easily carried away by their emotions and react excessively, I…) 带着年轻人的偏激,我痛恨她在弗劳尔斯太太面前暴露 她的无知。

It didn’t occur to me for many years that they were as alike as sisters, separated only by formal education.

多年以后我才明白她们俩就像姐妹般的相像,区别只 在于是否受过正规教育。

But they talked, and from the side of the building where I waited for the ground to open up and swallow me, I heard the soft-voiced Mrs. Flowers and the textured voice of my

grandmother merging and melting.

但是他们继续交谈着,我在房子的侧面等着地裂个口 子 把我吞下去,从那儿我听到弗劳尔斯太太柔和的声音 和奶奶粗俗的声音结合起来,融为一体。

Paragraph 11. 1) Questions
① ② ③ What is this paragraph about? How does the writer describe Mrs. Flowers? What kind of person is Mrs. Flowers according to this paragraph?

2) Words
Appeal Moor Loyal Roar Incessantly Tray Scone Crumpet Hyphen

Tasty Scones

Delicious Crumpets

Paragraph 12 1) Questions
① ② ③ What is this paragraph about? How does the writer describe Mrs. Flowers? What kind of person is Mrs. Flowers according to this paragraph?

2) Words

3) Sentences
She acted just as refined as whitefolks in the movies and books and she was more beautiful, for none of them could have come near that warm color without looking gray by comparison. 她和电影、书籍中的白人一样举止优雅,而且她更加的 漂亮,因为他们没有一个的肤色能像她的肤色那样显得温 暖而又不显得灰暗。

Paragraph 13 1) Questions
① Why does the writer thinks it was fortunate that she never saw her in the company of powhitefolks? What kind of person was the writer at that time?

2) Words
Powhitefolks Evenizer Shatter Unmendable

3) Sentences
For since they tend to think of their whiteness as an evenizer, I’m certain that I would have had to hear her spoken to spoken to commonly as Bertha, and my image of her would have been shattered like the unmendable Humpty-Dumpty. 因为由于他们倾向于把他们自己的白皮肤当做是一种获 得平衡的因素,我敢肯定我就会不得不听见别人像称呼普 通人那样唤她为伯萨,那样的话她在我心中的形象就会像 摔破后就再也补不起来的矮胖子那样破坏殆尽。

Paragraph 14 to 31 1) Questions
① ② ③ ④ ⑤ ⑥ What does the author tell us in these paragraphs? Why did Momma offered to have someone help Mrs. Flowers to carry the sacks home? Who is Bailey? And why did Momma send him? Why did Mrs. Flowers prefer the writer? What lies behind the age-group looks? What is paragraph 17 about? And what does it reveal?

Why did Mrs. Flowers praise Momma? Why did Momma seldom receive compliments for her skills in sewing? ⑨ What was Momma’s reaction to Mrs. Flowers praise? What did she do? ⑩ What was the reaction of Mrs. Flowers when she saw what Momma did? 11 What was Momma’s reaction when Mrs. Flowers again affirmed her work in paragraph 28? 12 What did the writer feel about this incident? From her feelings, what characteristics can be revealed about her? ⑦ ⑧

2) Words
Provision Sack Drag Chifforobe Maze Sacrilegious Equivalent Stitch

Compliment Competently Button Loop Hem French-seam Film bust Armhole Sheetmetal Groceries Fitting Sunstroke Slanting

3) Phrases
Mean to do Hand …out Button up Bust out of

3) Sentences
Another Negro woman of her health and age would have been expected to carry the paper sacks home in one hand, but…… 换作另外一个身体情况和年龄和她一样的黑人妇女,就 会要她一只手把纸袋拎回家,但是……

I trusted myself back into the Store. 我大胆地回到店里。 我自信地回到店里。

Since everyone we knew ( except Mrs. Flowers of course) could sew competently, praise was rarely handed out for the commonly practiced craft.

因为我们认识的每一个人(弗劳尔斯夫人除外)针线 活都做得很不错,对这种大家都会的手艺很少会加以赞美。

IV. Summary
1. Grasping the general idea of the text.
This text is part of the writer’s autobiographical novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It is the first part of the writer’s recall of how a black lady, Mrs. Flowers, has profoundly influenced her. It especially introduces the writer’s impression about Mrs. Flowers, the writer’s momma’s strange relation with her, and also an incident happening on the Writer before visiting Mrs. Flowers.

2. Appreciating the organization of the text.
Part I. (P.1): Introduction Part II. (P.2-5): My impression of Mrs. Flowers Part III. (P.6-10): the communication between Momma and Mrs. Flowers Part IV. (P.11-13): My comparison of Mrs. Flowers to the ladies in the novels and books Part. V. (P. 14-31): An incident fresh in the writer’s memory

3. Drawing the picture for the heroines
① ② ③ What kind of person is Mrs. Flowers according to the writer? What kind of person is Momma? What kind of person was the writer at that time?

V. Exercises
Please turn to your textbook.

VI. Reflection
1. Does Mrs. Flowers impress or influence you in one way or another? 2. Does Momma impress or influence you in one way or another?

The story is to be continued.

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