Character analysis of Momma in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Essay by boxerfan24A+, November 2003

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Character Analysis of Annie Henderson (Momma)

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

is introduced to a vast ensemble of complex characters. Each character has a

tremendous impact on Maya Angelou's life. One character who not only has great

weight in Maya's life, but is also one of the most beloved and admired characters is

Annie Henderson, Maya's paternal grandmother. She is defined by an unshakable faith

in God, her loyalty to her community, and a deep love for everything she touches. Annie

Henderson, affectionately referred to as Momma, has the greatest influence over Maya

Angelou, from childhood to adolescence.

Momma lives in Stamps, Arkansas, where she is dearly loved and respected by its

residents. She is the proprietor of the only general store, the Wm. Johnson General

Merchandise Store, in the black community. Momma has a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

She has owned this store for some twenty-five years, starting it as a mobile lunch center

and eventually building it in the heart of the black community.

She lives in the back of

the store with her handicapped son, Uncle Willie. Maya and her older brother, Bailey Jr.,

go to live with Momma when they were three and four years old. Momma excepts them

into her home with open arms and raises them for the majority of their childhood.

Momma instills in them a sense of right and wrong and raises the children according to

stern Christian values.

One thing that makes Momma an important character is her unshakeable faith in

God. Every morning Momma rises from bed (without an alarm clock) at four o'clock

and starts her day with a prayer, asking for God to bless her home and everyone in it.

When Momma is confronted with racism, she looks to God...