Analysis of the theme of racism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

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In Maya Angelou's autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, many

major themes are implemented to describe the harsh reality of growing-up in the south

and being black. She uses the universal themes of racism, cruelty, education,

abandonment, and many others to show the reader what she has persevered over

throughout her life to become the strong, independent woman that she is today. One such

theme in her autobiography, prevalent throughout the duration of the book, is that of

racism. Three instances in her life where she must fight against racism are at her eighth-

grade graduation, at her first employment with a white woman, and with Bailey Jr.,

Maya's brother, after he witnesses a lynching. The theme of racism is employed to show

the reader what it was like to grow-up black in a segregated society.

An example of how Maya Angelou is affected by the ugliness of racism is at her

eighth-grade graduation from Lafayette County Training School.

In Stamps, the black

community revered the graduation as a great event. It is so great that there will be a

white speaker. Maya sits through the beginning of the graduation ceremony with a sense

of doom. She feels that something is going to ruin the joyous occasion for her and the

graduating class. The white speaker, Mr. Donleavy, gives his oration on the

improvements the children of Stamps had to look forward to. He spoke of how the white

children at the Central School would get new science equipment and a well known artist

to teach them art. These improvements were made graciously possible because of him.

He assures the graduating class that they were not to be left out. He tells them that he has

"pointed out to people of a very high level that one of...