Similarly, in her narration, Maya shows the extent of racial discrimination during her life. Finishing School suggests
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography that describes the coming of age of a Southern black girl who overcomes society’s cruelty as she grows up. Taking place in Stamps, Kansas during the 1930s, the autobiography captures Marguerite Ann Johnson’s, or Maya’s, battle of finding
Throughout the story, Maya is discouraged by the segregation of the blacks. For a long time she is denied the job that she wishes to have because of the color of her skin. Also, she wants her family to be together and to be happy. She is separated from her parents at a young age and lives with her grandmother and uncle for most of her childhood. When she is with her parents, she tends to feel secondary. There is always something a touch more important that she and her brother Baily.
This quote is important because based on stereotypes developed by other people, black people are violent and rude. Maya would likely have been punished for standing up for her grandmother while the white girls would be sympathized for harassing an elderly woman.
At the time, racism was predominate amongst southern citizens, this caused Maya’s displacement because she was a young black girl. Throughout the book Maya faces prejudice, and is constantly
The common theme is the racism that Maya and her family experience throughout the book. As the narrative is set in 1969 when racial prejudice against African Americans was still prevalent. Through Maya’s eyes, whiteness is the preferred skin color but she cannot hide the hate and disgust of the white people, who degrade and belittle her. The racism is especially present due to their setting, which is in the south. One might think that moving to San Francisco would end the racial divide, but that is not the case. In the south, they are divided by a very literal border, and although blacks and white work side by side in San Francisco, their prejudice was apparent; “San Franciscans would have sworn on the Golden Gate Bridge that racism was missing from the heart of their air-conditioned city. But they would have been sadly mistaken” (Angelou).
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
«I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number-two pencil.» This quotations highlights the horrible reality of how black kids see themselves, as ugly monsters, from an early childhood, dreaming of being white. Maya describes a cruel fairy that has magically enchanted her due to the jealousness she had of her being so white and beautiful, which is why she turned into a ‘big Negro-girl’. She writes ‘understandably jealous’ meaning that Maya herself understood everyones love for white people and was jealous not being able to be one of them, however at the time not understanding that she was beautiful and special herself, even though she had a skin color that differed from others. She states to the audience that racism gets into child’s heads at a very early age and suggests that people should be more concerned about this
Racism has played a major factor throughout society. Being prejudice and being racist can be expressed interchangeably with each other since they both are defined in nearly identical ways: having hatred or looking down on one of a different race or nationality. Resembling its counterpart, racism has occurred in the
Maya reached her breaking point. Her dad was deployed in Syria; her mom was unresponsive most of the time from all of the alcohol she drank to numb the continuous stress she felt worrying about whether or not she would get a phone call notifying her of her husband's death. Her best-friend turned on her for the popular girls at school and her grades were starting to slip. The only thing that kept her sane was drawing. When she drew, she felt free. She felt as if nothing in the world mattered except her colored pencils and sketch book. One misty, eerie night Maya drew herself in great detail. She started with her silky, straight, brown hair that fell a few inches below her shoulders. She then went on to her facial structure. Her defined jawline connected at her chin to make a vague point. Her eyebrows were thin and well-kept, and her nose was as petite as a Boston Terrier. Her lips were small, but plump and resembled the pink hue of the sky at sunset. She took the most time on her deep blue eyes, capturing all of the pain she was feeling for so long. Maya finished her drawing by coloring and shading all of it in making her face look as soft as an airbrush painting. It was her
Maya Angelou is easily one of the best African American poets of all time, and she has paved the way for a lot of African American women in the literary world. Angelou is not only a poet but she is also an activist, the first female black director, educator, an autobiographer and that is just to name a few. She has a lot of accomplishments and accolades under her belt. She worked for Martin Luther King, as well as Malcom X during the civil rights movement. "Angelou had become recognized not only as a spokesperson for blacks and women, but also for all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States." – Carol E. Neubar in Southern Women Writers
Maya is very comfortable with Bailey because they are much alike. Maya feels comfortable asking Bailey for opinions about what could or should be done about a situation, and therefore she trusts Bailey with all of her honest feelings of love, hate, fear, etc. Bailey give Marguerite confidence that
At the start of this chapter, Maya is bored with her life and decides that she wants to get a job, since she doesn’t want to stay in her room but also doesn’t want to run away again. She decides to become a streetcar conductorette, but when she tries to
As a black female in a racist and sexist world, Angelou overcomes barriers and obstacles to tell an empowering, deep-felt story about the value of growing up by accepting oneself. Though Maya endured traumatizing events and periods of intense insecurities, her ability to rise above and learn from them helped her grow and mature. Similarly, oppression and injustice define most societies, but transcending such restrictions and learning to love oneself are vital to the formation of an individual’s identity and forming an identity and growing
She talks about how she was raped and molested (“I Know). All of Maya’s works are based off her life experiences. She preaches how she feels blacks and women should be treated. Maya states that blacks would never become a comparison to whites. Most of her poetry pays attention to making sure that blacks are not mistreated, and to make sure they know that they are human also. Her autobiographies and poetry express social, historical, and political outlooks. She chose to speak of oppression that was in the world then. She talked about war, and the men that risked their lives for the country. From her experience, she has much compassion that she uses in writing (Ramsey).