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The Characteristics Of The Main Character In Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

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Maya Angelou was a writer who writes about and records all her enjoyable experiences. She’s a writer who went through a traumatic event that led her to becoming almost completely mute. Maya is best-known as a writer and for her numerous books.

Although born in St. Louis, Angelou spent much of her childhood in the care of her paternal grandmother in rural Stamps, Arkansas. When she was not yet eight years old, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and told of it, after which he was murdered; the traumatic sequence of events left her almost completely mute for several years.(Maya) As a girl, Marguerite Ann Johnson endured trauma and abuse that actually led her to stop speaking.(Life)

St. Louis, Marguerite endures the most shattering experience of her childhood when she is raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. She feels physical and psychological guilt as a result of the rape, but also the guilt of having exposed Freeman, who meets a violent death at the hands of “persons unknown” (presumably Marguerite’s tough St. Louis uncles). The rape marks a new period of intense crisis for Marguerite, who after Freeman’s death decides, voluntarily, not to speak to anyone except her brother Bailey.(Braxton)Marguerite loses much of her innocence during this “perilous passage,” which cuts her childhood painfully short.(Braxton)

American poet, memoirist, and actress whose several volumes of autobiography explore the themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression.(Maya) She has taught at the University of Ghana, the University of California (Los Angeles), and the University of Kansas (as writer-in-residence), and currently holds a lifetime chair as Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Included among her many awards are the Woman of the Year Award in Communications of the Ladies’ Home Journal, and her nominations for the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award.(Braxton)

From a childhood of poverty and abuse, she became famous for works, such as her best-selling memoir, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.'(Life) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings displays an impulse toward transcendence. Like the song of the caged bird, the autobiography represents a prayer sent from “the heart’s deep core,” from a depth of emotion. The author prays that the bird be released from its cage of oppression so that it may fly free from the definitions and limitations imposed by a hostile world.(Braxton)

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Marguerite’s irrational fear of lesbianism leads her to seduce a handsome young man from the neighborhood. She becomes pregnant but manages to conceal the pregnancy from her family for over eight months, enough time for her to finish high school.(Braxton) For years she didn’t celebrate her birthday because it fell on the date of his assassination.(Life)

Angelou was a gifted, intuitive cook and a generous entertainer. Even when she couldn’t stand in her kitchen, she’d sit and oversee a recipe’s construction.(Life)

In 1940 Angelou moved with her mother to San Francisco and worked intermittently as a cocktail waitress, a prostitute and madam, a cook, and a dancer. (Maya)

The patterns established in Caged Bird continue in Angelou’s subsequent autobiographies. The narrator adapts herself to each new situation creatively, replenishing her sense of self in difficult circumstances, discovering the fullness of her sexuality, and learning to nurture and protect. The events of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings become a touchstone for Angelou’s later narratives.(Braxton) Angelou returned to California in 1966 and wrote Black, Blues, Black (aired 1968), a 10-part television series about the role of African culture in American life. (Maya)

Readers quickly perceive that this passage is italicized because it is Maya’s fantasy, but they do have to read a few sentences of the fantasy before realizing it. (Walker) Critics should not focus on the political at the expense of the formal but instead should see the political and formal as inextricably related. Indeed, some of the most well-received works on American literature in the last decade offer compelling demonstrations of such a symbiosis of form and content.

Maya Angelou is a strong woman who enjoys life and records all her experiences. She overcame a lot of obstacles in her life and always did what was best for her. I was surprised that the way she started talk again was by writing.

Works Cited

  1. Braxton, Joanne M. ‘Angelou, Maya 1928-.’ Modern American Women Writers, edited by Elaine Showalter, et al., Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991, pp. 1-8. Scribner Writer Series, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.
  2. Copyright and Terms of Use:
  3. ‘Maya Angelou.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 24 Oct. 2018. Accessed 3 May. 2019.
  4. Walker, Pierre A. ‘Racial Protest, Identity, Words, and Form in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.’ EXPLORING Novels, Gale, 2003. Student Resources In Context, Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
  5. ‘The Life Of Poet Maya Angelou, From Poverty To Presidential Prizes.’ All Things Considered, 28 May 2014. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.

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