I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

1159 WordsApr 6, 20175 Pages
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou is an autobiographical coming of age story set in the midst of the racially charged era of the Jim Crow Laws. Angelou’s novel explores the enormously influential first seventeen years of her life, as she struggles to overcome the seemingly insurmountable personal and societal adversities such as rape, race, instability, and insecurity. Angelou’s powerful depictions of the events of her early life immediately immerses her readers in the fact that life as a black woman in the 1930’s and 1940’s, meant forging a place in society that was not created for you. Angelou depicts her young life lacking stability and having a revolving door of people, both good and bad coming in and out of it. However,…show more content…
Her savviness led to her families’ survival throughout the Great Depression during which she was able to lend money to both black and white people. Guided by her faith, Momma rises above the circumstances around her such as the racially charged climate of the South. When three young “powhitetrash” girls come into her store, mimicking her physical appearance, rather than respond Momma begins humming hymns. Maya, enraged by Momma’s subservient response to this disrespectful treatment thinks of shooting the girls. In this moment Maya becomes furious with Momma, believing that she “allowed” the disrespect, not understanding that Momma didn’t believe those white girls were better than her but feared any potential the backlash their actions could have on her family or the store. Momma’s actions showed Maya the powerless position of even the most esteemed black folk, and taught her a sad but necessary lesson, black women must be survivors, and survival could not be prideful. “Momma intended to teach Bailey and me to use the paths that she and her generation and all the Negroes gone before had found, and found to be safe ones” (47). After Bailey witnesses, a group of white men with the dead body of their black victim he and Maya are sent out of the South to live with their mother in San Francisco. “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in it’s perfect power,” (59) Vivian Baxter Bailey was the beautiful, exciting,

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