Champion of the World



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In “Champion of the World,” an excerpt from her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou presents us with the portrait of a rural African-American community in the 1940s, people who are riveted to the radio broadcast of the heavyweight world championship boxing match.  The contenders are a white challenger and the black champion, the great Joe Louis.  On the surface it is just a sporting event, but beneath the surface their fate as a people seems to ride on whether the champion loses or once again prevails.

  • In “Champion of the World,” an excerpt from her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou presents us with the portrait of a rural African-American community in the 1940s, people who are riveted to the radio broadcast of the heavyweight world championship boxing match.  The contenders are a white challenger and the black champion, the great Joe Louis.  On the surface it is just a sporting event, but beneath the surface their fate as a people seems to ride on whether the champion loses or once again prevails.
  • The excerpt presents us with a clear, moving portrait of the people of Stamps, Arkansas, who come across as an extended family sticking together through good times and bad.  They are crammed into Maya’s uncle’s store to listen to the only radio for miles around—a detail which tells us just how poor and deprived these people are.  Everyone is there, even the “Christian ladies” who would otherwise never condone any kind of violence.  During the time of the fight, all differences are erased.  They are as one: “We didn’t breathe.  We didn’t hope.  We waited” (8).  Everyone is in synch as they ride the roller-coaster of the fight. 
  • In fact, they are more than just a rural Black community; they are representatives of the entire African-American race.  When Joe is losing, the metaphoric implications extend beyond the people in the store:  “”My race groaned.  It was our people falling.  It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree.  One more woman ambushed and raped.  A Black boy whipped and maimed.  It was hounds on the trail of a man running through slimy swamps.  It was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful” (8). The prospect of Joe’s loss conjures up all these classic, tragic images of prejudice and discrimination.
  • This little story tells us a great deal about the difficulty of race relations at the time.  African Americans were discriminated against and kept down by being made to feel inferior.  Segregation in this country kept Black and White Americans from going to school together, from working together, and from marrying together.  We can see from this little town of Stamps just how completely segregated the American South was at the time.  Boxing is one of the few areas in which they could compete on a level playing field, and it is a chance for a man like Joe Louis to prove his toughness and resourcefulness.  For him to win and maintain the championship belt means that African Americans can aspire to equality with Whites, and this means everything to them.  They can dream of a better future for themselves and their children.  However, they are not so foolish as to assume that Joe’s victory changes everything.  At the end of the story we are told that they know better than to be outside on the night of this victory; they will face the wrath and retribution of their oppressors:  “It wouldn’t do for a Black man and his family to be caught on a lonely country road on a night when Joe Louis had proved that we were the strongest people in the world” (9).
  • “Champion of the World” is a powerful, memorable story.  It brings us directly into the minds and experiences of the people in Stamps.  The images are very strong, for example the one about the babies perched on their mothers’ laps, nearly falling to the floor as their mothers get wrapped up in the fight.  The story gives us a clear understanding of how much the championship bout meant to them.  It is uplifting, while also being very real.  It allows us to learn, and to feel.

A stands for answer the question.

  • A stands for answer the question.
  • Before we answer the question, we must restate the question that is asked…
  • Model: What are two examples of figurative language in the short story “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan?
  • Application: How does the narrator's age affect the tone of this essay?  Give examples of language particularly appropriate to a fourteen-year-old?

To restate the question we use the same words in the question to form a sentence.

  • To restate the question we use the same words in the question to form a sentence.
  • Example What are two examples of figurative language in the short story “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan?
  • In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language are…

After restating- we must add our answer.

After we answer the question, we must CITE our answer by finding a DIRECT QUOTE from the story to show support/proof.

  • After we answer the question, we must CITE our answer by finding a DIRECT QUOTE from the story to show support/proof.
  • You MUST put quotation marks around your proof because you are borrowing words from the author that are not your own.

In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language are simile and hyperbole.

  • In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language are simile and hyperbole.
  • “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose.”
  • A
  • C

Expanding your answer is a SIMPLE and DIRECT ONE sentence CONNECTION to your answer.

  • Expanding your answer is a SIMPLE and DIRECT ONE sentence CONNECTION to your answer.
  • Avoid the what and answer the WHY or HOW.
  • Do NOT introduce any new information in your conclusion statement.
  • Do not make your explanation more than one sentence!
  • Keep it simple! Stay on the main topic!
  • This is where you dig deep. What other details are there about the evidence that you could point out?

In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language are simile and hyperbole.

  • In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language are simile and hyperbole.
  • “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose.”
  • Considering that the biblical Mary was probably not a Cinderella lookalike, and that Santa Clause traditionally delivers toys makes the story even funnier.
  • A
  • C
  • E

The Rough Draft

  • The Rough Draft
  • In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language the author uses are simile and hyperbole.
  • “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose.”
  • Considering that the biblical Mary was probably not a Cinderella lookalike, and that Santa Clause traditionally delivers toys makes the story even funnier.
  • Write your answer in paragraph form!@!
  • In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language the author uses are simile and hyperbole. “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose.” Considering that the biblical Mary was probably not a Cinderella lookalike, and that Santa Clause traditionally delivers toys instead of noses only makes this narrative about a school-girl crush even more comical.

There will be one question on your test that will ask one question about BOTH stories, this is called either a crossover (2012), paired (2013) or connecting (2014).

  • There will be one question on your test that will ask one question about BOTH stories, this is called either a crossover (2012), paired (2013) or connecting (2014).
  • Whatever calls it THIS year, you can still ACE it.

How are Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” and Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” similar?

  • How are Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” and Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” similar?

Restate and Answer the question…

  • Restate and Answer the question…
  • Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” and Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” are similar in that both grapple with cultural shame in Anglo worlds.

Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” and Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” are similar in that both grapple with cultural shame in Anglo worlds.

  • Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” and Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” are similar in that both grapple with cultural shame in Anglo worlds.
  • Tan is mortified at what her crush Robert will “think of our shabby Chinese Christmas” and goes so far as to wish for a “slim new American nose” to compliment Robert’s blond hair.
  • Angelou recounts the anguished triumph of a negro boxer beating a white contender in segregated America and admits that it would be detrimental for “a black man and his family to be caught on a lonely road on a night when Joe Louis had proved that we were the strongest people in the world.”
  • A
  • C1
  • C2

Both stories deal with humiliation, feeling inferior.

  • Both stories deal with humiliation, feeling inferior.
  • (But what else? Needs more elaboration based on the answer and cite??? Need to dig deeper. Hmmm? What else does the cited evidence already show? Tone? Diction?
  • Mood?
  • E

Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” and Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” are similar in that both grapple with cultural shame in the Anglo world. Tan is mortified at what her crush Robert will think of her “shabby Chinese Christmas” and goes so far as to wish for a “slim new American nose” to compliment [her crush] Robert’s blond hair. Angelou recounts the anguished triumph of a negro boxer beating a white contender during The Great Depression and laments that it would be detrimental for “a black man and his family to be caught on a lonely road on a night when Joe Louis had proved that we were the strongest people in the world.” Even though both stories deal with feelings of inferiority, Angelou’s tone is poignant and Tan’s is comical.

  • Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” and Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” are similar in that both grapple with cultural shame in the Anglo world. Tan is mortified at what her crush Robert will think of her “shabby Chinese Christmas” and goes so far as to wish for a “slim new American nose” to compliment [her crush] Robert’s blond hair. Angelou recounts the anguished triumph of a negro boxer beating a white contender during The Great Depression and laments that it would be detrimental for “a black man and his family to be caught on a lonely road on a night when Joe Louis had proved that we were the strongest people in the world.” Even though both stories deal with feelings of inferiority, Angelou’s tone is poignant and Tan’s is comical.
  • A
  • C1
  • C2
  • E
  • The End

In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language the author uses are simile and hyperbole. “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose.” Considering that the biblical Mary was probably not a Cinderella lookalike, and that Santa Clause traditionally delivers toys instead of noses only makes this narrative about a school-girl crush even more comical. __________ __________ ________ __________ ________ __________

  • In “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, two examples of figurative language the author uses are simile and hyperbole. “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy, Robert, and a slim new American nose.” Considering that the biblical Mary was probably not a Cinderella lookalike, and that Santa Clause traditionally delivers toys instead of noses only makes this narrative about a school-girl crush even more comical. __________ __________ ________ __________ ________ __________
  • Angelou’s “Champion of the World” and Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” are similar in that both grapple with cultural shame in the Anglo world. Tan is mortified at what her American crush will think of her “shabby Chinese Christmas” and goes so far as to wish for a “slim new American nose” to compliment Robert’s blond hair. Angelou recounts the anguished triumph of a negro boxer beating a white contender during The Great Depression and laments that it would be detrimental for “a black man and his family to be caught on a lonely road on a night when Joe Louis had proved that we were the strongest people in the world.” Even though both stories deal with feelings of inferiority, Angelou’s tone is poignant and Tan’s is comical. ________
  • Single =
  • 3 sentences
  • Paired =
  • 4 sentences


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