Maya Angelou Diction

Decent Essays

The memoir written by Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is a personal and ultimately reflective narrative that presents readers a slew of scenarios fueled by racism and racist people. It brings to light the life and upbringing of an African American girl who is plagued with the knowledge that her people are constant victims of prejudice; all while she struggles within herself over her image and very identity. Many reminders of both ailments are placed throughout the book using a literary device that Angelou excels at, her diction. Utilizing her diction, Maya Angelou is able to portray this society along with herself candidly in Chapter 16 to expose the normalcy of racism and discrimination, the effects it had on her self image …show more content…

On the other hand, one could argue that Maya was only 10 years old when this took place and could not have known what her thoughts implied. However, the reader must realize that whether or not Maya knew how to label her thoughts, years of living within a racist society, she was taught to think lowly of her white neighbors.
If racism and discrimination are the most prevalent themes, then Maya’s less than standard self image is the closest second in this narrative. With the fact that only two years prior Maya had been molested and raped in mind, which is an inarguable factor in determining her self worth, the negativity must stem from somewhere. The negativity arose from what her society makes her believe about the way she looks. The general belief hold by the African American people, children at least, is that the lighter their skin, the straighter their hair and the brighter their eyes, the more beautifully they are viewed. Maya strove to resemble “sweet little white girls” because that is what the discrimination against her race told her, that little white girls are “everybody’s dream” (Angelou 2). She becomes envious of those that do fulfill, or come close to fulfilling her idealistic dream. For example, Maya compares herself to the daughters of Mr. Cullinan and his mistress. Angelou describes the Cullinan girls as if their physical beauty is her life’s unattainable goal. This truth is proven to the

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