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I know why the Caged Bird Sings

Uploaded by Angel04 on Feb 28, 2001

Three primary problems “cage” Maya Angelou in her autobiographical book I Know why the Caged Bird Sings. The most pressing of these issues was probably the fact that Maya lived in the highly segregated south. Another factor of her imprisonment was because Maya, also known as Marguerite, was a social outcast, with very few friends other then relatives. Finally, the main character was entrapped because of her unusual sexual exposure. Over all, the highly segregated life she led, her exclusion socially, and her sexual experience caught Ms. Angelou.

At the time, racism was predominate amongst southern citizens, this caused Maya’s displacement because she was a young black girl. Throughout the book Maya faces prejudice, and is constantly fighting this outrage, yet is not always winning. When Marguerite Johnson, nicknamed Ritie, was sixteen she became the first black streetcar operator in San Francisco, yet she had to fight incredibly hard to get her job. Even after she did her work schedule was impossible, and the free feeling she got from her job was turned against her at school, when she realized that her and her fellow classmates were, “on paths moving diametrically away from each other,” so even though Ritie had gotten the job she wanted, which she could have gotten easier had she been white, she was still an outcast. Furthermore, Marguerite, being Black, was denied certain necessities, such as not getting her toothache treated by the nearest dentist because he’d “rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth then a nigger’s,” or have a white man imply that none of the black children were good enough to amount to anything on there graduation day. All in all, one reason Ms. Angelou locked up was because she was Black and lived in a time of segregation.

Although Marguerite loved what few friends she had, she was a misfit, the fact of which contributed to her confinement. On page four Johnson says, “If growing up is painful for a Southern Black girl being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat,” despite the fact that Ritie could admit it or not, being a social pariah is situation that would make any girl feel as though the walls were closing in on her, and with Angelou this feeling was especially significant. Maya often wished the she would wake up as her “true self,” a beautiful white girl; on...

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Uploaded by:   Angel04

Date:   02/28/2001

Category:   I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Length:   3 pages (718 words)

Views:   2506

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