when a caged bird sings

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Form edit

Critic Pierre A. Angelou claimed that when Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at the close of the 1960s, one of the essential and acknowledged elements of literature Walker, was thematic unity. To further her political objectives of illuminating how to combat racism in America, one of Angelous’s objectives was to write a book that met this requirement. The text’s organization, which is thematic rather than chronological and looks like a collection of short stories, [45] Walker discusses how the book’s structure supports Caged Bird’s portrayal of racism in his 1993 article “Racial Protest, Identity, Words, and Form.” Walker claims that instead of examining the book’s structure, critics have chosen to concentrate on its themes, which he believes ignores the political nature of the work. He says, “By highlighting the interplay between form and political content, one better serves Angelou and Caged Bird.” [46] Angelou arranges her writing in a way that offers a number of lessons on how to fight against racism and oppression. The book is cohesive due to Maya’s journey, which “stands in contrast to the otherwise episodic quality of the narrative.” [45] By “juxtaposing the events of one chapter with the events of preceding and following ones so that they too comment on each other,” Angelou frequently undermines the chronology of her childhood in her vignettes. [45].

For instance, Maya was ten years old when the incident involving the “powhitetrash” girls occurs in chapter 5, which occurs much earlier than Angelous’s account of her rape in chapter 12, which happened when Maya was eight years old. Walker notes that Angelous had a specific purpose in mind when she arranged the vignettes, and that was to adhere to her thematic structure. Robert Loomis, Angelous’s editor, concurs, saying that Angelou could rewrite any of her books by rearranging the facts to have a different effect on the reader. [48] In contrast, Hagen divides Angelous’ structure into three sections: arrival, sojourn, and departure. These sections take place both psychologically and geographically, and they center on Maya’s journey “to establish a worthwhile self-concept” [49]. Hagen points out, though, that Angelou starts Caged Bird much later in time by narrating a humiliating experience at church, which illustrates Maya’s low self-esteem, insecurity, and lack of status, rather than starting the book chronologically with Maya and Bailey’s arrival in Stamps. [48] At the end of the book, Hagen clarifies that Angelous’ goal is to show Maya’s transformation from insecurity to her sense of worth that comes from becoming a mother. [50].

Plot summary editSee also:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings chronicles Marguerites’s (referred to by her brother as “My” or “Maya”) life from the age of three to seventeen, highlighting the challenges she encounters in the South, especially those related to racism and self-affirmation. After their parents desert them, Maya and her elder brother Bailey are sent to live in Stamps, Arkansas, with their paternal grandmother, Mama, and their disabled uncle, Uncle Willie. Throughout the book, Maya and Bailey are plagued by the memory of their parents’ abandonment; they travel alone, get treated like luggage, and eventually become accepted members of the community. [25] The community of.

The overt racism of Maya’s white neighbors and the pervasive awareness of racial relations in society are largely to blame for the issues she faces as a child. Momma owns the general store in the center of the Stamps Black community, which makes her relatively wealthy, but the white kids in their town constantly bother Maya’s family. For instance, in a humiliating moment, one of these “powhitetrash” girls shows Momma her pubic hair, leaving Maya, who is witnessing from a distance, enraged and enraged. In the beginning of the book, Momma hides Uncle Willie from Ku Klux Klan raiders in a vegetable bin. Uncle Willie spends the entire night moaning beneath the potatoes. Maya’s racist employer changes her name to Mary, which is an insult she must bear. During her eighth-grade graduation ceremony, a white speaker disparages the Black audience by implying that they have few career options. Despite Momma’s reminder that she had lent him money during the Great Depression, a white dentist declines to treat Maya’s decaying tooth. While the Black community of Stamps experiences a brief moment of racial triumph when they tune in to the radio broadcast of Joe Louis’s championship fight, they are largely burdened by racial oppression.

The unexpected appearance of Maya and Bailey’s father in Stamps marks a turning point in the plot of the book. When he leaves, he takes the two kids with him, but leaves them with their mother in St. Louis, Missouri. Maya, age eight, is molested and sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. During the trial, he is found guilty, but he avoids jail time and is killed—possibly by Maya’s uncles. Maya feels guilty and withdraws from everyone but her brother. Maya stays quiet and withdrawn even after arriving back in Stamps until she meets Mrs. “The aristocrat of Black Stamps,” Bertha Flowers,[26] who supports her in regaining her voice and soul via literature and conversation This coaxes Maya out of her shell.

Later, in order to shield her grandchildren from the perils of racism in Stamps, Momma chooses to send them to live with their mother in San Francisco, California. Maya receives a scholarship from the California Labor School to study dance and drama in addition to attending George Washington High School. She becomes the first Black woman to work as a cable car conductor in San Francisco prior to graduating. One summer while still in high school, Maya spends time with her father in southern California, where she has some life-changing experiences. When she has to bring her drunk father home from a trip to Mexico, she takes her first driving lesson. She briefly becomes homeless following an altercation with her father’s girlfriend.

Maya worries that she might be a lesbian in her senior year of high school. She confuses this with being a hermaphrodite because she has never had sex. She ultimately initiates sexual intercourse with a teenage boy. In order to graduate from high school, she becomes pregnant and, at her brother’s advice, conceals the pregnancy from her family until the eighth month of her pregnancy. Maya gives birth at the end of the book.

Influence edit

Angelou was heralded as a new breed of memoirist upon the release of Caged Bird in 1969, as one of the first African-American women to be permitted to openly discuss her personal life. Black women writers had been so marginalized up until then that they couldn’t even pretend to be main characters. Author Julian Mayfield has insisted that Angelous autobiographies established a standard for African-American autobiography generally, calling Caged Bird “a work of art that eludes description”[37]. With Caged Bird, Als argued, a Black autobiographer was finally able to, in his words, “write about blackness from the inside, without apology or defense.” [37] After penning her autobiography, Angelou gained notoriety as a reputable voice for women and people of color. [16] Caged Bird made her “without a doubt . Americas most visible black woman autobiographer”. [74] While Als acknowledges that Caged Bird made a significant contribution to the rise of Black feminist literature in the 1970s, he believes that the book’s popularity was more due to “its resonance in the prevailing Zeitgeist”[37] of the late 1960s, when the American Civil Rights Movement was coming to an end. Many other women writers were liberated to “open themselves up without shame to the eyes of the world” by Angelous’s writings, which were more interested in self-revelation than in politics or feminism. [37].

The first volume in particular, Angelous Autobiographies, has been used in multicultural and narrative approaches to teacher education. Jocelyn A. George Washington University professor Glazier has trained instructors to properly address racism in the classroom by using Gather Together in My Name and Caged Bird. Angelou’s masterful use of humor, irony, self-mockery, and understatement leaves readers wondering what she “left out” and uncertain about how to react to the events she writes about in her autobiographies. These strategies compel white readers to examine their thoughts regarding race and their social privilege. Glazier discovered that readers respond to Angelou’s storytelling with “surprise, particularly when [they] enter the text with certain expectations about the genre of autobiography,” despite critics’ attention being drawn to her literary devices and place within the African-American autobiography genre. [121].

In his 1997 book Stories of Resilience in Childhood, educator Daniel Challener examined the events in Caged Bird to show how resilient kids can be. Challener claims that Angelou’s book offers a helpful framework for examining the challenges that many kids, like Maya, encounter and how a community can support these kids in becoming successful, just like Angelou did. In the instruction of child development topics like the development of self-concept and self-esteem, ego resilience, industry versus inferiority, effects of abuse, parenting styles, sibling and friendship relations, gender issues, cognitive development, puberty, and identity formation in adolescence, psychologist Chris Boyatzis has used Caged Bird to supplement scientific theory and research [122]. He has praised the book as a very useful resource for giving examples of these psychological concepts in everyday life. [123].