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Essay on Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya shields herself against the confusion of St. Louis by reading fairy-tales and telling herself that she does not intend on staying there anyway. Vivian works in a gambling parlor at night. Maya pities Mr. Freeman because he spends his days at home waiting for Vivian to return. Maya begins sleeping at night with Vivian and Mr. Freeman because she suffers from nightmares. One morning after Vivian has left the bed and the house, Mr. Freeman sexually molests Maya. He does not rape her but rather masturbates on the bed while holding her close to him. Afterward, he threatens to kill Bailey if Maya ever tells anyone, but Maya, who does not understand what has happened and who actually enjoyed being held by someone, cannot understand what caused such a threat. For weeks, Mr. Freeman ignores her, and then molests her again. Again, he ignores her for weeks. Maya feels rejected and hurt, but she loses herself in other things, such as books. She wishes she were a boy because the heroes in all her favorite books and stories are male. Bailey welcomes the move to St. Louis and he makes friends, with whom he plays baseball. Maya, however, does not make any friends during this time. She and Bailey begin to grow apart, so she spends her Saturdays in the library reading fantastic adventures. ...


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...he begins to strengthen her opinion of herself as an experienced woman. When she enters the courtroom filled with unsavory characters and "smirking mouths," Maya remembers that the nurses have told her that she has seen the worst life has to offer her, and she uses their words to bolster her confidence. She says, "I was eight, and grown," showing how the incident ultimately sharpens her precocious sense of self. Undoubtedly, she has lost some of the innocence that led to her accept Mr. Freeman's advances. Now, she puts the rape behind her to a certain extent and pays even more attention to her own character. Throughout the rest of the book, however, Maya must continue to struggle with growing pains, particularly those associated with sex. While she may grow wiser in some ways in St. Louis, she nevertheless remains a confused child.


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