I Know Why Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography of the life of Maya Angelou.

The book begins with the divorce of her parents, and Maya and her brother Bailey
moving from St. Louis to Stamps, Arkansas, where their grandmother lives. Maya
deals with sudden, unexpected separation from stability and security, sexual
abuse, rape, racism, poverty, death, abandonment, solitude, and uncertainty all
before the age of sixteen. After leaving the safety and comfort of life with her
grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, Maya and her older brother Bailey travel to St.

Louis to live with their mother Vivian. After almost a year of not adjusting to
city life, Maya becomes the victim of a savage rape, by her mother’s
boyfriend. It leaves her so traumatized that she stops speaking and slowly
recovers after returning to Stamps to the love and care of Momma. After proudly
graduating from junior high school and entering their teenage years, Maya and

Bailey again go to live with their mother. She moves to San Francisco, where

Maya feels more alone and insecure than ever. She has to come to terms with the
feelings and issues of being a teenager, getting a job, finishing school,
watching her brother pull away to find freedom, and an unexpected pregnancy.

Eventually she overcomes all the cards stacked against her to give birth to a
healthy son. Throughout I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the author lives in
several towns and cities, all of which effect her differently. The fast-paced,
noisy life Maya finds in St. Louis is totally foreign to her, and seems worlds
away from the quiet, secure life she had in Stamps with Momma. Maya thrives and
seems happiest and most comfortable in Stamps, with Momma, Bailey, and Uncle

Willie. From the time that she was three until she was seven. The rural, poor
southern town of Stamps was the only home that Maya knew. Maya was inspired to
write her autobiography after meeting novelist James Baldwin, editor Robert

Loomis, and cartoonist Jules Feiffer. She booked a downtown hotel room and wrote
from six till noon on weekdays. She did this for six months, and by 1970 she had
a manuscript for publication. After reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I
would like to say that it is a very interesting look into a turbulent life of a
young troubled girl. I think that it was entertaining, but at the same time
there were some serious issues dealt with by the author. It helped me realize
how hard life can be for some people. I would strongly recommend this book to
any mature reader. The author easily fulfills the goal of the novel. I think
that her goal was to successfully give a feeling of what her life was like as
she grew up. She deals with sexual abuse, rape, racism, poverty, death,
abandonment, solitude and uncertainty, all before she was sixteen. The detailed
accounts of the events in her life made me feel as if I was growing up along
side of her. I could see her pain and anguish throughout her childhood years. I
was affected most when she gave her feelings after she was raped. She wrote of
the guilt and her fears of how the rape was her fault. Maya says, "I had sold
myself to the Devil and there could be no escape. The only thing I could do was
to stop talking to people other than Bailey...When I refused to be the child
they knew and accepted me to be, I was called impudent and my muteness
sullenness...The bareness of Stamps was exactly what I wanted, without will or
consciousness. After St. Louis, with its noise and activity, its trucks and
buses, and loud family gatherings, I welcomed the obscure lanes and lonely
bungalows set back deep in dirt yards." This account of Maya’s is an example
of how she fulfills her goal of making the reader feel as if they were with her
as she grew up. Angelou’s writing style is descriptive and colorful; she uses
many literary devices to emphasize scenes and conversations that show the
development of her character. For example: Characterization "...when she was
called upon to sing, she seemed to pull out plugs from behind her jaws and the
huge, almost rough sound would pour over the listeners and throb in the air."

Symbolism "Just my breath, carrying my words out, might poison people and
they’d curl up and die like the black fat slugs that only pretended. I