Maya Angelou as a Caged Bird Essay

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Maya Angelou as a Caged Bird

The graduation scene from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings illustrates how, living in the midst of racism and unequal access to opportunity, Maya Angelou was able to surmount the obstacles that stood in her way of intellectual develop and find "higher ground." One of the largest factors responsible for Angelou's academic success was her dedication to and capacity for hard work, "My work alone has awarded me a top place...No absences, no tardinesses, and my academic work was among the best of the year" (Angelou 13-14). Angelou worked hard and read a great deal in order to be able to perform on such a level, in spite of the fact that she had much less access (or none) to the quality of teachers, school
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Angelou also overcame the isolation, muffling of her voice and low self-esteem that can develop in a segregated environment by looking to those who had achieved higher ground before her, in books, in music, and in art. She completely memorized The Rape of Lucrece, was well versed in Shakespeare, knew the life and times of Booker T. Washington, and was aware of the enduring power of black music. Like Washington would advocate, through hard work, education, love of others and making herself indispensable by way of her accomplished development, Angelou was able to rise above the disadvantages of her environment repeatedly. This is not to say that feelings of low self-esteem, anger, hostility, bitterness and rage were not all feelings and emotions engendered in her by the abusive environment that she would have to let go of before she could truly find herself-on higher ground. She describes how awful it was to be black and be accused of things one could not even find opportunity to defend against. She wishes all blacks were dead, she says black is one of the colors she hates, and she wishes she could choke Donleavy to death for his exploitative, ignorant racist ideology. Yet, even when she is at her angriest, we see her wit and intelligence shine through that anger light a bright ray of hope, the same ray of light she will eventually use to find herself and reach higher ground. Her
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