Oppression Due to Society's Misconception in Maya Angelou's Autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

597 WordsFeb 22, 20182 Pages
The theme that Maya Angelou incorporates into her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is one of imprisonment because of the oppression dictated on the subject through the misconceptions of society. The title itself suggests imprisonment as the overlying theme. Assuming that the bird mentioned in the title is Maya, one can analyze that the cage is the oppressive beliefs of society and the reason why the bird sings is that it wants to combat racism by explaining that the cage cannot confine it from its freedom. Maya Angelou is commenting that the subject should always fight against the respective cage that each person is constricted within and not mourn over the suffering and restrictions that one has to go through. Maya Angelou employs character and conflict into her autobiography in order to effectively develop a theme of imprisonment and overcoming the oppression inflicted upon oneself. Through man v. society conflict, Maya is restrained because of her limitations that are brought upon her by the society’s beliefs about racism, sexism, and age. The majority of these limitations are encountered in Maya’s confrontation with the secretary and in her interview. During her interview, Maya is asked, “How old was I? List my previous jobs, starting from last held…” The interview helps to assure the reader that Maya, constrained by her race, sex, and age, has to lie in order to obtain the position of a streetcar conductor. Maya has to endure the discrimination of being

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