Essay on Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou relating to the main character, Maya and growing up in her home town of Stamps, Arkansas

Essay by emzec37College, UndergraduateA, February 2005

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Growing up and taking in the specific surroundings as a young child greatly influences a person's later character, personality, morals, and beliefs. The setting of where and when you grew up molds you into the person you will eventually become. This is extremely true in the case of Maya Angelou in her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Life in Stamps, Arkansas was not easy. Maya lived in this black ghetto for most of her young childhood life with her grandmother, her paralyzed uncle, and her brother. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a story of this young girls fight for survival in a cruel world. Maya Angelou overcomes the trials and tribulations of major issues such as racism, sexism, and power all throughout her childhood years. As a character Maya has many hurdles to overcome, including her sense of abandonment when her parents sent her away, her grandmother's rigid fundamentalism, the racism of Stamps, poverty, and falling victim to rape.

Following these strenuous obstacles, Maya Angelou demonstrates three foremost qualities and characteristics that help her face and overcome her life altering incidents; the birth of a rebel, a victim, and a survivor.

Growing up in the harsh conditions of Stamps, Arkansas, it is inevitable that Maya acts and thinks subconsciously with rebellion on her mind. To rebel, in simplicity, is to resist or defy an authority or a generally accepted convention. Maya Angelou demonstrates and portrays this exact definition throughout her life based on her childhood growing up in Stamps. Racism and prejudice was quite a common aspect of Maya's surroundings. Stamps, Arkansas was thoroughly segregated and as a child Maya did not quite believe that white people actually existed. "In Stamps the segregation was so complete that most Black children didn't really, absolutely...