New Directions is a short story written by Maya Angelou in 1993. It is an excerpt from her book Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey. It is a story about an African-American woman, who starts out without any money, job or education and end up with a successful life as she slowly starts up her own trading company. The themes of the story are the six basic American values, which is repeatedly shown throughout the short story. This essay will analyze the short story with focus on setting, characterization together with themes.
The story takes place in Arkansas around the year 1903. Here Mrs. Annie Johnson, a six-feet tall black woman with big bones, lives with two sons in a small one-room house. She and her husband has split up after they both agreed that they were not happy with their marriage, and Mr. Johnson wanted to leave and study religion.
Page 1, line 7: “When she told her husband, Mr. William Johnson, of her dissatisfaction with their marriage, he conceded that he too found it to be less than he expected”. The couple made a deal of splitting their assets, which resulted in Annie getting the house while her husband took most of the money. This left her poor without any form of income. This is where the first part of the themes become visible. The first two American values are individual freedom and self-reliance, which is relevant to Annie’s current situation in the story. Here she is now a single mom to three who is free to do whatever she wants, and she can only rely on herself.