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Coming of Age in Mississippi | Study Guide

Anne Moody

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Part 3: College, Chapter 19

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 3: College, Chapter 19 of Anne Moody's memoir Coming of Age in Mississippi.

Coming of Age in Mississippi | Part 3, Chapter 19 : College | Summary



During Anne's second year at Natchez she develops an interest in boys. She has always turned down male advances before, but now she's curious. She begins dating a well-liked male basketball player named Keemp. Though she's happy at first, she soon grows disillusioned with how everyone at Natchez seems absorbed by their relationship, and her interest in Keemp wanes. She worries about having enough money to continue her education.

One morning there's a commotion in the dining hall. Someone's found a maggot in the grits. Anne enters the kitchen, despite Miss Harris's protests, and sees a leak seeping water onto the kitchen shelves. She leads the students in a cafeteria boycott. The students pool their money to buy food for a few days. After the school president, President Buck, confronts Anne a few days later, the leak is fixed and the spoiled food discarded. Anne feels the real problem is Miss Harris's negligence. She won't return to the cafeteria until Miss Harris is fired. After the other students run out of money and reluctantly go back to the cafeteria, Anne continues to boycott.

President Buck likes Anne despite the "disturbances" she causes on campus. He encourages Anne to apply to Tougaloo College, the state's best senior college for black students, and she's accepted with a scholarship.


Anne's frequently felt anxieties surrounding men. She knows she's attractive to the opposite sex—male attention has been an annoyance since her teenage years. But once she explores her own sexual desires with Keemp, she realizes her priorities lie elsewhere. Romance is less important to her than academics or civil rights. She feels more fulfilled as an agitator and activist than as a college student with a boyfriend.

The food strike is the first time Anne organizes a group of people to protest institutional mistreatment. It's also the first time she sees the personal cost these protesters have to pay. The protest has a celebratory mood at first, but it only lasts as long as the students' money does. Anne keeps standing up for her rights as a Natchez student long after the protest has stopped being fun, even when she really has to sacrifice. Until the college makes the changes she wants to see, she won't compromise or give in. Her academic performance and resolve earn her the respect, if not the approval, of the college president. She's begun to see herself as someone who can demand dignity on a large scale—not just for herself, but for an entire group.

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