I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou
Writing Help

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing Help 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?