Mark Twain “Advice to Youth”
Advices from the text:
-always obey your parents, when they are present
-be respectful to your superiors, strangers, and sometimes to others
-go to bed early, get up early
-be very careful about lying; otherwise you are nearly sure to get caught
-never handle firearms carelessly
-be careful in your book selection
Twain uses satire to mock the way our culture so often gives advice to youth.
Instead of saying he is not trying to impose his opinions on them but simply giving advice, he
makes it very clear that he is directly telling them what to do. At the end of his advice he states,
“I hope you will treasure up the instructions which I have given you… build your character
thoughtfully and painstakingly upon these precepts.” This mocks those that pretend their
intentions are simply to give advice when in reality, they are attempting to lead kids.
Twain begins his article with positive things like obeying your parents and being respectful to
superiors, but later brings up how to master lying – this questions whether the advice people
often give is actually true advice or what people want to hear, for people never want to admit
however ‘wise’ they are that lying can be successful.
Twain gives the advice that the youth should read good books, then shares a list of books that
he himself wrote. This questions the advice-givers true motives behind giving advice to the
Maya Angelou “Mary”
Angelou recalls being taught to embroider, sew, and crochet, which all girls in her part of
Stamps were taught to do; but, to learn finer manners, you had to go outside of the black part of
Stamps, and she learned these things from working for a white woman, Mrs.Cullinan. Mrs.
Cullinan is a very strict and somewhat tyrannical woman who is older and lives with her
husband, and Miss Glory as her primary housekeeper and cook. Mrs. Cullinan's house is very
fancy, with a myriad of needless dishware and cutlery, and everything in its proper place. Maya pities her for a time, because Mrs. Cullinan was unable to have children; but, once Mrs. Cullinan
treats her rudely and refuses to call her by her proper name, Marguerite, she begins to strongly
dislike Mrs. Cullinan.
Maya decides that she has to quit, since she cannot bear to be renamed by Mrs. Cullinan,
simply because a shorter name is more convenient. Maya can't just quit, though, because her
Momma would not let her; so, she decides to drop Mrs. Cullinan's favorite dishes, and get fired
because of it. Mrs. Cullinan yells at her, and finally calls Maya by something close to her proper
name, Margaret. Maya leaves, happy that Mrs. Cullinan finally admitted that her name wasn't
Mrs. Cullinan is a symbol o