full title · I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
author · Maya Angelou
type of work · Autobiographical novel
genre · Autobiography
language · English
time and place written · New York City, late 1960s
date of first publication · 1969
publisher · Random House
narrator · Maya Angelou
point of view · Maya Angelou speaks in the first person as she recounts her childhood. She writes both from a child’s point of view and from her perspective as an adult.
tone · Personal, comical, woeful, and philosophical
tense · Past
setting (time) · 1930s–1950s
setting (place) · Stamps, Arkansas; St. Louis, Missouri; Oakland, California; San Francisco, California
protagonist · Maya Angelou
major conflict · Coming-of-age as a southern black girl, confronting racism, sexism, violence, and loneliness
rising action · Maya’s parents divorce; Maya and Bailey are sent to Stamps; Maya and Bailey move in with their mother in St. Louis; Maya is raped; Maya and Bailey return to Stamps; Bailey witnesses a victim of lynching; Maya and Bailey move to San Francisco to live with Vivian; Maya spends the summer with her father
climax · Maya runs away from her father, displaying her first true act of self-reliance and independence after a lifelong struggle with feelings of inferiority and displacement; here, she displaces herself intentionally, leading to important lessons she learns about humanity while in the junkyard community
falling action · Maya lives for a month in the junkyard with a group of homeless teenagers; she becomes San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor; she becomes pregnant; she graduates high school; she gives birth to a son and gains confidence
themes · Racism and segregation; debilitating displacement; resistance
motifs · Strong black women; literature; naming
symbols · The Store; Maya’s Easter dress
foreshadowing · The opening scene in the church foreshadows the struggles Maya will have to overcome in her life; when she cannot recite the poem and flees the church while crying and peeing, Angelou notes her fear of the people laughing at her and her sense of displacement and inferiority even among other blacks; she also leaves the church laughing, however, which foreshadows her ultimate success
Through a series of personal events, feelings, and thoughts, Maya Angelou is able to captivate its readers with her recounting of her life from her early years up to late adolescence. As readers, we are able to see how Maya grows from the insecure little girl in Arkansas to the strong woman who realizes that she can trust herself and will be able to keep moving forward, which is clearly shown when she realizes that she can take care of her son.
During the last chapter of the book, I feel that Maya does a great job describing the feeli... Read more→
278 out of 311 people found this helpful
It should tell the plot. but it didn't have the plot. but I read the story. then I figured out the plot of the story. This is a good app to use when you have a lot of wok to do. thanks,
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
I honestly think this book was so hard to follow and so incredibly boring. Although Maya is a respectable and amazing woman, her autobiography might've been one of the slowest and most boring books I've ever read, just beating to a crumby book about the Irish potato famine way back when. If your a big reader and a Maya fan then go for it... but if you're not then than you might become incredibly apathetic about this book. Fast.
9 out of 13 people found this helpful
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