I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Essay

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Essay

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In the novel I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou goes from a little southern black girl who wishes to be a “a long and blonde haired, light-blue eyed, white girl”, to a very mature young adult that is proud of her race. Throughout ’s (Maya’s) life she goes through many difficulties and triumphs. Some of which a person could never imagine of going through. Maya goes from being a very shy and strange black girl, to a certain and self-confident young woman. In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, has to deal with prejudice, rape, and also the issues of abandonment in her course of becoming a mature woman.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings takes place in the 1930s to the 1940s. During this time period Blacks were discriminated against. Being a child in this period, Maya experiences how difficult life is with prejudice people. For example, with all the discrimination going on, Maya wishes to be a white girl. She says “Wouldn’t they be surprised when one day I woke out of my black ugly dream, and my real hair, which was long and blond, would take the place of the kinky mass that Momma wouldn’t let me straighten? My light-blue eyes were going to hypnotize them.....Then they would understand why I had never picked up a Southern accent, or spoke the common slang, and why I had to be forced to eat pigs’ tails and snouts. Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth”. She experiences how mean and harsh white people are to the black people. For example, Maya saw her grandmother “Momma” be insulted by a bunch of “powitetrash” kids. They were making fun of how she was standing on the front porch and how she was humming Church songs. After getting bored of mocking her, one of the girls had revealed herself to Momma. Throughout the whole episode Momma stood straight and stiff and kept humming her Hymns. This showed Maya that a black person doesn’t have to always react to what white people say or do towards them. Being strong and showing that a person is not afraid is the best thing to do when being harassed. Momma also contributes to Maya’s maturing by Maya starts to take pride in her race even with all the prejudice. Momma stands up and speaks out to the white dentist, which was...


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...a lesbian or not. So, without help from her mother she goes to the first guy she sees and has sex with him. If her mother had not let her alone and guided her through this problem she would never had done this. In doing this she becomes pregnant. This is when Maya really matures and learns that she must grow up. Without any guidance through her life she never knew the difference between right or wrong. All the times that she was abandoned or not guided through her childhood resulted in her getting pregnant. If Maya was never abandoned from her parents and other people then maybe she would have never made these bad choices. During this time period and living in the South, it makes Maya’s life difficult to experience. She grows up very fast and learns about things that a normal child or teenager would not know at this time. She matures quickly by the discriminations, her rape, and being abandoned throughout her childhood. As a teenager, Maya seems to be an older woman because of all the difficulties and the triumphs that she has gone through. Today, kids are growing up very quickly, and they need the help of adults and examples from adults to understand what’s going on around them.

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