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Post Colonialism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Tchissola Neto

on 26 November 2015

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Transcript of Post Colonialism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

In Conclusion..
Comparison between works studied in class and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"
Post Colonialism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

is Maya Angelou's first autobiography
It was written and published in

It takes place from the

1930's -1950's in the United States

from Arkansas, Missouri and California, a time and

place of


Key Facts about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
This book is about Maya coming of age as a southern black girl, confronting racism, sexism, violence, and loneliness
What's it About?
-Maya and Bailey are sent back to live in Stamps

-Maya's grandmother introduces her to Mrs. Bertha Flowers

-Mrs. Flowers gets Maya to become vocal again by introducing works of literature

-Maya begins to express herself through poetry, thanks to Mrs. Flowers

-Maya's grandmother becomes very concerned for her and her brother because of the overwhelming amount of racism so she send them to live with their mother in California

-When Maya is 8 her father comes and brings her and her brother to live with their mother

-Her mothers boyfriend, Mr. Freeman, molests and rapes Maya at the tender age of eight

-Mr. Freeman is murdered, Maya blames herself and goes on a vow of silence for five years
St. Louis, Missouri
-When she was 3, Maya and her brother Bailey's parents divorced and sent them to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their Grandmother
-Maya struggles with racism and insecurity on a daily basis
Stamps, Arkansas
Stamps, again
Los Angeles, Oakland then San Francisco, California
-Maya's mother gets married to Daddy Clidell

-They move to San Francisco; this is the first home and city Maya feels safe and secure in
A Summer Los Angeles
-She spends one summer with her father, Big Bailey and his hostile girlfriend, Dolores

-Maya and Dolores get in a fight and Dolores cuts her. Maya runs away and lives with a group of homeless teenagers in a junkyard for a month

What is Post-Colonialism?
Post-Colonialism is the study of the domination and colonization of many countries and the economic and psychological effects that it had on colonial history, which ended roughly in the mid-20th century
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings vs. Fifth Business
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings vs. Hamlet
Archetypal Comparison: Coming of Age
Both protagonists in these two works fit into the "coming of age" archetype as they both struggle with a loss of innocence

Maya faces this coming of age when she is raped at the age of eight and is unwillingly phased into adulthood

Hamlet faces this when his fathers ghost urges him to avenge his death by killing his uncle
Maya struggles with this because she is lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood
He struggles with this because he is torn between vengeance and morality
Archetypal Character Comparison
Both works have the "wise old man" archetypal character that guides the protagonist in the story
Maya's wise old man is actually a woman named Mrs. Bertha Flowers, a woman of intelligence
Mrs. Flowers introduces Maya to different works of literature and gets her to express herself and find a voice through her poetry
Dunstan's wise old man is Padre Blazon, a wise man he meets on his travels
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is written through a post-colonial perspective as shown through the binary system, the eurocentric way of thinking and the dehumanization of the black characters
Padre Blazon helps Dunstan to forgive himself and to let go of his guilt as he provides wisdom that his role in the Dempster's life was a part of God's plan
Binary System in I Know Why the Caged bird Sings
colonized, inferior, subordinate
colonizer, superior, dominant
Eurocentrism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
-The characters in this book have a very eurocentric way of thinking

-idea of white supremacy

-the white characters have a white superiority complex
Dehumanization in Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
This is degrading people and depriving them of human qualities such as individuality, compassion, or civility
This was done to the black people before slavery was abolished as well
Ex. When Maya gets a tooth ache and her grandmother takes her to the dentist, he refuses to treat her and says he’d rather stick his hand in a dog’s mouth
by Maya Angelou

Before We Begin..
-Background and key facts of the book
-Brief summary
-Connection to other works
-Post-colonial lens application
San Francisco Again
-Maya returns strong and confident in San Francisco

-She becomes pregnant at the age of 16 and hides her pregnancy from her mother and stepfather for eight months

-The book ends with her being confident as a mother to her newborn son, who is now known as Guy Johnson

Post-colonial ideology such as a binary system, eurocentrism and dehumanization show that I Know why the Caged Bird Sings is written through a post-colonial lens
Closing Note:
Full transcript