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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Emma Bauman

on 27 May 2015

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Transcript of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Analysis: Maya had to deal with rape and all the after effects of it and that influenced her life and this novel.


Analysis: Dealing with what was happening during that time period (segregation, discrimination...) also affected what and how she wrote.
Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya: "tenderhearted",positive, unattractive, dark skin, african american,
"kinky" hair, positive, thinker, curious
In the beginning, Bailey and Maya move from Long Beach, California to Stamps, Arkansas
"...from Long Beach,California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas..."(5)

Then to St. Louis, Missouri
"St. Louis was a new kind of hot and a new kind of dirty" (59)

Next to California again
"...and I lived in Los Angeles about six months..."(202)
"Mother drove us toward San Francisco..." (203)

Moving from a small town to a big city caused Maya face different challenges than she has ever experienced
Moving multiple times made it hard to form strong relationships with people
In the beginning...

In the middle...

In the end...

Literary Elements
Live love summaries
-The book is written in the point of view of the author; it's an memoir.
- Starts out with Maya being abandoned by her parents and being left with her grandmother.

- You see how Maya develops in the story, both mentally and physically:
-Taught strict Christian beliefs
-Strong relationship with Bailey
-Gets raped by an older man
-Humiliated by her peers for her appearance
-Being stabbed with scissors by her father's girlfriend
-Gets pregnant and has her child

-Maya overcomes all the obstacles thrown at her. She keeps moving forward no matter what.

First person point of view
Told by Maya
Wrote as a memoir

She wants people to know her story, and know what she had to overcome to get to where she is
She does not look like her family
She thinks that she is ugly and lacks femininity

She was abandoned by her family
She was raped when she was 8
She faced racial discrimination
She got into a fight with her fathers girlfriend

She had a lot of obstacles that she had to overcome in her life
Maya Angelou's style is easy to understand, yet very deep and full of imagery.

The details are very simple and specific, but they are often punctuated by a deeper-meaning phrase, such as this vivid example of personification.

Point of View
Maya resembles an innocent adolescent whose childhood was filled with tragedies and devastating events that attempt to take that away from her.
Maya and Bailey's biological parents are divorced and live across the country, so they live with their grandparents in a small segregated town. Maya dislikes the "powhitetrash" from a very young age due to their harassment of the Blacks of Stamps.
-main character
-is not very good-looking
-very optimistic
-Doesn't let anything get her down
-"I was big, elbowy and grating...I was described by our playmates as being shit color"(22, Angelou).

-Maya's older brother
-is very attractive: has nice skin, and decent hair. The color of his skin was a perfect shade of brown.
-Strong relationship with Maya
-"he was small, graceful and smooth...he was lauded for his velvet black skin"(22, Angelou).

-is very religious
-she was very strict with Bailey and Maya, she held very high expectations.
-she was respectful and respected in their community.
-Owns a convenient store where workers come to pass the time everyday
-"...the judge had really made a gaffe calling a Negro woman Mrs. ... the Negros thought it proved the worth and majesty of my grandmother"(48, Angelou).
"Ritie, don't worry 'cause you ain't pretty. Plenty pretty woman I see digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind."(67)
"Their greasy uncolored hair hung down, uncombed, with a grim finality. I knelt to see them better, to remember them for all time. The tears that had slipped down my dress left unsurprising dark spots, and made the front yard blurry and even more unreal. The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve." (31)
-"We lived with our grandmother and uncle in the rear of the Store (it was always spoken of with a capital
)." (6)
Shows how important and respected the store is the the townspeople.

-"...Wasn't she the only Negro woman in Stamps referred to as Mrs.?...the whites tickled their funny bones with the incident for a long time, and the Negroes thought it proved the worth and majesty of my grandmother."(48)
Momma is so respected that she is referred to as "Mrs." It is only used to refer to a white woman; that is why the whites laughed when they heard it.

- "Under the tent of blanket, which was poled by my elbow and forearm, the baby slept..'You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking'."(289)
Maya having her child made her able to let go of all her troubles from the past and move forward. Turning point of her life; when she became a woman.

Maya, at 8 years old is raped by Mr. Freeman, who is never jailed for his crime. Maya becomes now quiet and reserved and fearful of others (particularly men) from this point on.
Maya hears from her parents and they decide to spend time with Bailey and Maya. Between her mother and her father, St. Louis and San Franscisco, she discovers a world larger than the one she knew previously.
In memory of Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014)
Maya and Bailey are both maturing rapidly. Bailey eventually moves out when he is seventeen. At this same time, Maya finds out that she is pregnant with her son at only 16.
Maya and Bailey have become independent and their childhoods are officially over at this point. The story ends with Maya holding her new baby boy and living with her loving mother, finally having found her place.
"I burst. A firecracker July-the-Fourth burst. How could Momma call them Miz? The mean nasty things. Why couldn't she have come inside the sweet, cool, store when we saw them breasting the hill?" (31)

"My uncles would kill me and my Grandmother Baxter would stop speaking, as she often did when she was angry. And all those people in the court would stone me as they had stoned the the harlot in the Bible." (85)

"'See, you don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking.' She turned out the light and I patted my son's body lightly and went back to sleep." (289)
In the beginning...
In the middle...
In the end...
Maya is a bird, and racism is a cage around her, trying to keep her in one place, trapped. Yet, seeing people like Momma who exert their strength and courage despite difficulties gives Maya the power to keep singing her hope.

"No matter how trapped you feel, keep singing and showing the world why you don't deserve to be caged."
-"Our parents had decided to put an end to their calamitous marriage, and Father shipped us home to his mother"(5)
Angelou, Maya.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
New York: Random House, 1970. Print.

Franks, Carol. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." Masterplots II: Women’S Literature Series (1995): 1-3. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 May 2015.

Koontz, Tom. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition (2008): 1-4. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 May 2015.

Sickels, Amy. "CRITICAL CONTEXTS: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: African American Literary Tradition And The Civil Rights Era." Critical Insights: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (2010): 17-34. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 May 2015.
-"If you scream, I'm gonna kill you. And if you tell, I'm gonna kill Bailey" I could tell he meant what he said...The act of rape on an eight-year-old body..."(78)
Critical Lens

"Although she was damaged by family experiences of abandonment, neglect, and violence, her family life with Momma, Uncle Willie, and Bailey in Stamps and with her mother in San Francisco also provided the love that sustained her quest" (Koontz)
"One of the most desperate and fearful events in the book is the account of Mr. Freeman raping the eight-year-old Maya. Angelou’s candid narrative explores her childhood desire to be loved and her pain and horror at the psychological and physical violation of the rape" (Franks)
"Just my breath, carrying my words out, might poison people and they'd curl up and sire like the black fat slugs that only pretended"(Angelou 87)

"She tells...the general impoverishment of African Americans; a threat to Uncle Willie’s life by the Ku Klux Klan; the complete segregation in Stamps..." (Koontz)
"Angelou grew up in a place governed by intense racism, violence, and bigotry...young Maya lives under the threats of terrifying lynch mobs and the daily realities of discrimination and humiliation"(Sickels)
"...in the only Negro store in Stamps"(Angelou 12)

-"She turned out the light and I patted my son's body lightly and went back to sleep." (289)
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