"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" By Maya Angelo

Essay by ezqfergHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2004

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo is a story about a young girl who learns from her mistakes and grows into a woman. The poem, Sympathy, by Paul Laurence Dunbar depicts things that tell me why Maya Angelo is a caged bird. After reading both the book and poem, it is clear to me that Maya Angelo is a caged bird because she is a black woman growing up in a world dominated by the suppressing whites.

The fact that Maya is black is the greatest aspect in telling why she is a caged bird. From the beginning when Maya encounters the nasty, poor white girls, anyone can tell that Maya fears the white race. Another example is when Bailey comes home and tells the story of helping to get a dead black man out of the lake. Not only was Bailey devastated, but the whole black community was also.

Both of these encounters put fear of the white race in Maya's life. Although Maya got a job as a conductress, it was a real struggle trying to find anybody who would take a black teenager. The first lady she went to made it obvious to Maya that she was not wanted because she was black.

Being black was not the only thing that made her a caged bird. At a young age when Maya lived with her mother, Vivian, Maya was molested by Vivian's boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. Mr. Freeman said to Maya that if she told anybody he would kill her much loved brother. So Maya did as she was told and kept quiet for a long time. Then Mr. Freeman raped her. Again, Mr. Freeman told Maya to keep quiet and hide any evidence of the incident. After the second episode Maya got...