Analysis Of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was published in 1969 at a time when autobiographies of women, especially black women, were a way of proclaiming the significance of women’s lives, and examining issues of certain impact to women. It is the resilient and harrowing coming-of-age story of Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson, set in Stamps (Arkansas), St. Louis and San Francisco. It reveals the difficulties associated with the mixture of racial and gender discrimination experienced by a southern black girl. At the same time, she declares many issues, such as the relationship between parents and children, child abuse, and the search for one’s own path in life. Three of the influential women in Maya's life notably influence self-growth, strength of character and love of literature.
At the young age of three, Maya was displaced by her mother and sent to live with Annie Henderson (Momma), her paternal grandmother. Momma Henderson was the first influential woman in Maya’s life. Momma was a strict religious woman, owned the only black store in Stamps, and had land she rented out, she even loaned money to those in need during tough times. “People spoke of Momma as a good-looking woman and some, who remembered her youth, said she used to be right pretty. I saw only her power and strength” (46). Momma instilled the values of education, religion, and survival. Maya says that “Thou shall not be dirty’ and ‘Thou shall not be impudent’ were two commandments of Grandmother Henderson upon which hung our total salvation” (27). Momma also helped teach Maya respect for her elders, as well as manner. She taught her about religion and helped her get through issues with racism. Jacob states “Momma, too, does not spare the rod when...

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...t Maya had an insecurity and identity problem” (83).
For the most part, the guidance of strong, intelligent women through Maya's childhood provides the influence she needs to attain self-sustaining pride. These three women taught Maya the significant life lessons through example and good advice. Each of these women, while on different paths in life, was able to lead Maya down the right path for her. This autobiography was a true inspiration. Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice. Even though some schools have black listed it, it is a great book for high school and college classes to help provide true history on black women in the South and proof that no matter how hard ones childhood is, they can pull through and become anything they want to be in the end.
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