The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Specifically it will discuss the themes of racism and segregation, and how these strong themes are woven throughout this moving autobiography. Maya Angelou recounts the story of her early life, including the racism and segregation she experiences throughout her formative years. With wit, sincerity, and remarkable talent, Angelou portrays racism as a product of ignorance and prejudice. However, she finds the strength to rise above this crippling condition.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was first published in 1969 during a time when autobiographies of women because heavily significant by their exclamation of the significance of women. As a result, Angelou's piece gathered attention from various types of women who could relate to Angelou's journey of sexuality, colour, and the coloured
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is a novel by Maya Angelou, where she writes about her childhood and her experiences while growing up. This non-fiction novel illustrates Maya Angelou’s childhood, being tossed around by her parents, and having to experience different cultures. Maya struggles particularly in finding friends, she is reserved, and will only open up to Bailey, her brother. Maya moves a couple of times to different places, which may contribute to her not having friends. The novel revolves around Maya Angelou, Bailey, and her grandmother, evolving through life from being a child to a teenager. This novel is set in the “South”, in America.
Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, author, and poet. She wrote many books and poems that conveyed the vivid experiences in her life. Maya Angelou’s works are well known and she is an eminent writer. One poem in particular that is well known is “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” written in 1969. In this work she described racial inequality, and the lack of freedom African Americans experienced in the 1930’s and 40’s. Maya Angelou uses many Rhetorical strategies and literary devices to describe the lack of racial freedom in the world at this time.
A strong and influential memoirist is able to grasp the reader’s attention and dive into topics bigger than themselves. Maya Angelou, the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, describes herself as neither a hero nor a victim as she recollects her past. Growing up, Maya Angelou not only suffered from white prejudice and gender inequality, she was presented with situations that made her feel powerless. According to Angelou, “The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, whites illogical hate and Black lack of power,” (Angelou, 272). However, she found herself persevering through all of the adversity she faced and accepted her reality: “the fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement” (Angelou, 272). Angelou did an exceptional job of describing herself as neither a hero nor a victim in her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
In “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Maya Angelou uses her personal experiences growing up as an African American female to present her primary claim that even in trying times there is something to be grateful for. Angelou’s secondary claims are mainly comprised of stories from her upbringing as well as the description of her grandmother’s attitude even though they are living through times of extreme poverty. In Each of the stories she speaks of one circumstance that seems completely unbearable but yet ends with some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. This structure can also be seen in her description of her grandmother’s outlook on life. By formatting her essay in this way, Angelou is able to develop pathos as well as ethos with the audience.
In “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, Marguerite is a lonely girl who lives with her grandmother. She loves to help around the store and listen to people’s voices. When a friend introduces her to poetry, Marguerite is ecstatic. As Marguerite grows up, she struggles with having a person like her for who she is.
Angelou’s example of overcoming adversity is the strongest at the end of the essay. “Something unrehearsed, unplanned, was going to happen, and we were going to be made to look bad” (Angelou 26). As she is sitting there as a young girl at her graduation, she can feel the unwelcoming presence of the speaker’s words and actions. Before the speaker begins his political rant of what he has brought to the white community, Angelou anticipates that the graduating class is going to be shamed. Angelou believes the speaker’s words, and starts to doubt her hopes and dreams. “The man’s dead words fell like bricks around the auditorium and too many settled in my belly” (Angelou 28). As Henry Reed starts to sing the Negro national anthem, Angelou finally senses that the words do have meaning to her. Nearly every event that Angelou mentions in her autobiography has one of two different aims. The aim she uses in this essay is how she faces obstacles, overcomes them, and
The memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography written by Maya Angelou as she grew up in the mid-20th century, where being a black girl and facing racial issues in society, had to overcome many problems that show the larger issue of the time period. I chose this book over the other nineteen memoirs because of the strong recommendations I received from my fellow class mates, and because of my interest in racial issues during the terrible times of segregation. Life was not fair, and Maya Angelou had to face a lot during the 30’s and 40’s in order to try to live a normal lifestyle and become a confident person. Maya shares her story with us to increase our knowledge of racism, prejudice, unequal treatment of women, and sexual
This act of persistence is evident through this quotation “she neither marched up to the stage like a conquering Amazon, nor did she look in the audience for Baily’s nod of approval.” This quotation depicts how even after being belittled by her White oppressors, she stood up for the black community, for her own education, and for the ideals of equality and freedom. Furthermore, her not looking at Baily for reassurance demonstrates her independence and her coming of age, an independence that is transgressive in the eyes of society, she is now able to affirm her own choices. Even though, in the beginning of the essay, she is shown to have an aversion to her own skin color as she has internalized all a lot of hatred that she faces, in this quotation it is clear that now she marches for herself and her whole community. Moreover, even though she is only sixteen, her enduring and unyielding battle against racial injustice and educational inequality is a testament to her indefatigable spirit. This is evident in this quotation “We were on top again. As always, again…. I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race.” This quotation demonstrates persistence as Angelou goes on to appreciate her race and realizes that they could be on top even after being continuously discouraged because of her skin color. She now referred to herself as a part of the wonderful, beautiful race, coming to terms with her own
While Sandra Cookson claims that the poem is about "the survival of black women despite every kind of humiliation, deploys most of these forces, as it celebrates black women while simultaneously challenging the stereotypes to which America has subjected them since the days of slavery"(Cookson). I agree, because Angelou endured several injustices such as sexism, racism and criticism. Although Angelou faced these injustices, she triumphs over each one of them with pride. In addition, the 70s, many African-American feminists argued that black women were oppressed, not only because of their gender but because of their race. For example, in the fourth stanza, Angelou states, “Did you want to see me broken? /Bowed head and lowered eyes? /Shoulders falling down like teardrops. /Weakened by my soulful cries?” (Angelou 13-16). Here, the poet says how her
Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya shields herself against the confusion of St. Louis by reading fairy-tales and telling herself that she does not intend on staying there anyway. Vivian works in a gambling parlor at night. Maya pities Mr. Freeman because he spends his days at home waiting for Vivian to return. Maya begins sleeping at night with Vivian and Mr. Freeman because she suffers from nightmares. One morning after Vivian has left the bed and the house,
Dr. Angelou is best known for the first volume of her autobiography, in it, she bravely speaks of her battle to overcome abuse, rape, and poverty. For thousands of young Black women reading the book, it is a way of passage for those who have been similarly victimized, it is like a soothing ointment that helps heal the wounds. Angelou gives a voice to the voiceless; she says, "You're not alone. In happened to me
While the Angelou is sitting listening to his speech, she starts to give up and get down on herself, "It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life" (839). Angelou felt she and her classmates were being told what their destinies held; they were to be maids, farmers, maybe athletes, but never anything more. She even starting giving up on the human race as a whole, "As a species, we were an abomination" (839). She wasn't focusing