The Significance of Motherhood Throughout I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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When reading this novel, one can notice a number of attributes to motherhood that have been highlighted by the author. First of all, it is important to note that there are two mother figures in Maya’s life, and these are Vivian and Annie. Vivian is her biological mother, while Annie is her paternal grandmother whom she refers to as momma and spends a substantial part of her life at her house. At first Maya is bitter about being abandoned by her parents, however she slowly adapts to living with her grandmother along with her brother Bailey. As she grows accustomed to placing Annie as her mother and referring to her as “momma”, she develops trust and affection that places Annie in a hierarchy in Maya’s eyes. In this sense, her concept of motherhood is one that inspires trust based on strength of character and ability to offer comfort and assurance. Regarding her mother Vivian, Maya showcases trust when she asks her about the changes in her body and whether she could be a lesbian based on these changes or a lack thereof. Vivian further evokes Maya’s trust when she allows her to cut school when Maya does not feel like attending classes after she started working as a bus conductor. Another concept of motherhood as featured is that of strength where after her parents divorce, Maya’s mother is able to move on with her life and even support her daughter against her boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. Here, Maya considers the aspect of strength as one of the pillars of motherhood and she persists with it despite her doubts and fears as a young woman. When she goes back to Momma’s house after Mr. Freeman’s death, she experiences the strength of her grandmother in helping her to overcome her silence. Other than just observing others, Maya also enc... ... middle of paper ... ...ith her charismatic brother who constantly looks out for her, supports her and believes in her when no one else does. This affects her attitude towards men positively. Years later, however, her mother’s boyfriend molests and rapes her thus changing her perspective of men or rather widening her understanding of them. She sees Mr. Freeman as a pedophile that he actually is. Nonetheless, while on the verge of adulthood, she develops curiosity towards men and at some point considers them as objects for her pleasure. She also grows to love and respect her mother’s husband to the point of trusting him while her mother is away on business. Maya goes through a rough patch in the hands of a man, even after being abandoned by her father at a tender age. This, however, does not completely set her against men but rather opens up her mind enabling her to view them objectively.

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