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Coming of Age in Mississippi | Study Guide

Anne Moody

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Part 3: College, Chapter 18

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 3: College, Chapter 18 of Anne Moody's memoir Coming of Age in Mississippi.

Coming of Age in Mississippi | Part 3, Chapter 18 : College | Summary



In New Orleans Anne returns to Maple Hill to earn money for college, but business is slow. Her high school basketball coach helps her earn a sports scholarship to Natchez College, a junior or two-year college in Mississippi. Anne is excited to attend but disappointed by the small campus.

She also clashes with the faculty and staff at Natchez. When she gets a job in the campus kitchen, the head cook Miss Harris asks her for information on her classmates. The girls' basketball coach Miss Adams has strict rules for players on and off the court, rules Anne thinks are unfair. She complains to the dean about Miss Adams's rules, and Miss Adams demotes her from the first-string team in retaliation. The school's curfews, restrictions, and off-campus chaperones make Anne feel more "like a prisoner" than she ever has.

Natchez is supported by Baptist churches, and the staff wants to protect the girls from "evil influences." The boys at Natchez have much more freedom. Anne finds her classmates sheltered and hypocritical, and she's "a loner" like she was in high school. Anne considers leaving after her first year, but returns since she can't afford a school in New Orleans.


Part 2 showed Anne gathering courage and self-determination. By Part 3 she's resolute. She can no longer accept existing power structures if she thinks they're unfair. Her convictions immediately conflict with her new environment. If she doesn't see the need for the basketball team's restrictive rules, she'll protest them. Miss Adams's question "Are you going to obey the rules or not?" makes Anne realize she isn't. Her life is about to become more challenging.

Anne's classmates have different coping mechanisms in a rule-governed environment. Many classmates, like the "fast" girls, pretend to follow the rules while secretly doing what they want. Even teachers like Mrs. Evans have two identities. Anne rejects this mechanism as well. She doesn't choose obedience or duplicity. She wants to be genuine. Her resistance often means being a "loner" and she wonders where her true community is.

The religion-based restrictions at Natchez spur Anne's emerging religious doubt. Like many protagonists in coming-of-age stories, Anne's questioning the faith traditions she learned as a child. Tragic events she experiences don't reflect the principles of the faith—no God intervenes. Faced with doubt, Anne chooses on her own what matters to her and what she holds sacred.

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