Final Paper for Semester on Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Essay by emzec37College, UndergraduateA+, February 2005

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Opening Scene

The opening scene of Maya Angelou's, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, snatches its reader, draws them into the story, and refuses to let them go until the last exhausting sentence. The scene states the foreshadowing of events and struggles that are bound to come throughout the coming of age of a young black girl. The novel opens with a young lady named Maya reading an Easter poem in front of her church congregation. Maya is wearing an unflattering taffeta secondhand dress wishing for the day she would be considered beautiful. Stumbling on her words, she is unable to finish reciting the poem, runs from the church, and is tripped by another child on her way out. From there she flees from the church crying in humiliation of the tragic event that has just taken place. In the first two lines of the book, the beginning portion of the poem that Maya does in fact recite states, "What you looking at me for? I didn't come to stay..."

(Angelou 1). In this opening scene of the novel, the dissatisfaction of Maya's own appearance and her negative feelings of displacement relate to the struggles of her lifetime in her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Maya's appearance and the way she looks towards the world has always been a significant and vital issue she has been faced with. From the time she was a little girl, Maya has been compared in appearance to her brother, Bailey, and her beautiful mother. "Where I was big, elbowy and grating, [Bailey] was small, graceful and smooth. "When I was described by our playmates as being shit color, [Bailey] was lauded for his velvet-black skin. [Bailey's] hair fell down in black curls, and my head was covered...