Book Review: I know Why The Caged Birds Sing

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Essay
The book we recently read was called, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, written by Maya Angelou. This was a memoir about Maya Angelou’s life from age 3 to 17. The story was about Maya’s life living with her brother and grandmother who she called, “Momma” in Stamps, Arkansas. Then later in her life, she ended up living in St. Louis with her mother, San Francisco with her Father and even living in a car at a junkyard. She was faced with confusion in her later years as a teen and became pregnant and had a little boy. Through the years, there were many people who had an impact on Marguerite’s life. I believe that Momma, Mrs. Flowers, and Mr. Freeman had a huge impact on Marguerite’s life whether it was positive or negative. One person that was very influential in Marguerite’s life was Momma. She had a positive effect on Marguerite’s life. Momma owned the only store in the black section of Stamps which was the life center of the community with a friendly atmosphere and Momma served as a “community leader”. She was a strong woman who took care of things and raised Bailey and Marguerite with strong morals. “But Momma convinced us that not only was cleanliness next to Godliness, but dirtiness was also the inventor of misery.
Momma cherished Christian values and had strict rules. “Since Momma told us that the less you say to white folks the better, Bailey and I would stand, solemn, quiet, in the displaced air. ”Momma didn’t let the Po white trash run all over her when they were constantly mocking her and flashing themselves. She kept her dignity and she said a proper goodbye to them with a, “Bye, Miz Helen, bye, Miz Ruth, bye, Miz Eloise. ”Marguerite learned from Momma the ways to get away from the racial tension during this tough period. The 2nd person that had an influence on Marguerite’s life was Mrs. Flowers. She was the aristocrat of Black Stamps and was also one of Marguerite’s idols. Although Mrs. Flowers would never laugh, Marguerite loved it when she would smile at her often. Mrs. Flowers made Marguerite feel special and took an interest , “I was liked, and what a difference it made. I was respected not as Mrs. Henderson’s grandchild or Bailey’s sister but for just being Marguerite Johnson. ”(Angelou pg. 98). Mrs. Flowers had a positive effect on Marguerite’s life and she tries to take Marguerite out of her silence by trying to teach her to have a voice.

Marguerite respected that Mrs. Flowers encouraged her for her love of literature. Mrs. Flowers was an inspiration to Marguerite because she had dignity and was always true to herself. “It would be safe to say that she made me proud to be Negro, just by being herself. ” Marguerite learned from Mrs. Flowers that it’s okay to have a voice and to speak and be heard. The 3rd person to have an effect on Marguerite’s life was Mr. Freeman. When Marguerite and Bailey left the Stamps they arrived at St. Louis where Mother lived. Mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman, lived with them as well. While in St. Louis, Mr. Freeman raped and sexually molested Marguerite. It started out with a hug which deeply affected Marguerite. “He held me so softly that I wished he wouldn’t ever let me go. I felt at home. ” She was left in confusion because his physical touch made her feel wanted and before that she had never felt loved. Mr. Freeman gave her the wrong kind of love and Marguerite was confused about what love really was. He completely took advantage of Marguerite and her need for physical affection. “Then there was the pain. A breaking and entering when even the senses are torn apart. The act of rape on an eight-year-old body is a matter of the needle giving because the camel can’t. The child gives, because the body can, and the mind of the violator cannot. ” He selfishly violated Marguerite’s purity. Later, Mr. Freeman was murdered and Marguerite felt guilty and responsible for his death. Mr. Freeman negatively affected Marguerite’s childhood. Maya kind of learned what love was and experienced a lot of emotions throughout this entire occurrence. I believe that Momma, Mrs. Flowers, and Mr. Freeman had a huge impact on Marguerite’s life whether it was positive or negative. Momma basically raised Marguerite and Bailey to the best of her ability regarding everything they do with Christian morals. Mrs. Flowers made Marguerite feel special and encouraged her to read out loud more and more. Mr. Freeman raped Marguerite at 8 years old and ever since then, she felt guilty and conscious of the actions that took place. Throughout Maya Angelou’s life, the contact with those 3 characters made her learn many things about herself. She learned to open up and conquer many obstacles and by the end of the story, Maya completely blossomed. MLA: Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
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New York: Random House, 1969.
Print. Angelou, Maya. “5. ” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House, 1969. 26-27. Print. Angelou, Maya. “5. ” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House, 1969. 27.
Print. Angelou, Maya. “15. ” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House, 1969. 92.

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