I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. What is the significance of the opening scene of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?
2. What is the significance of Maya’s confrontation with Mrs. Cullinan?
3. What is the significance of the sermon delivered at the annual revival?
4. How does friendship with Louise change Maya?
5. How did Maya’s relationships with Big Bailey and Daddy Clidell differ? How does her relationship with Big Bailey compare with her relationship with Vivian?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. What characters serve as positive role models for Maya? Specifically, how does Maya come to her conclusions about the strength of black women?
2. Does Maya’s sense of displacement make her susceptible to Mr. Freeman’s sexual advances? How does the rape and Mr. Freeman’s death influence her throughout the rest of the book?
3. Trace Maya’s relationship with Bailey. Does it change significantly over the course of the book? Why or why not?
4. What means of resistance against racism does Angelou depict? How did the opportunities for resistance for rural southern blacks differ from those available to the black people in San Francisco? How might they be attributed to a generational difference?
5. Is Angelou a reliable narrator? To what extent does her own memory seem to distort her narrative? How would the significance of the work be different if it were fictional?
by maria106, November 14, 2012
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→
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