I Know Why The Caged Birds Sings: By Maya Angelou Overview:
I Know Why The Caged Birds Sings, is an autobiographical description which was written by Maya Angelou in 1969. In this autobiography, she describes her early years as an American writer and a poet.
- Originally Published: 1969
- Author: Maya Angelou
- Followed by: Gather Together In My Name
- Original Language: English
- Subjects: American
- Genres: Autobiography, Biography.
This particular book chronicles the readers of her life from age 3 through age 16. She has all written about it where she had been raped and had to face racism. The book became the most widely read and taught book written by an African-American woman.
I Know Why The Caged Birds Sings: By Maya Angelou Summary:
The introduction describes an event to the readers where as a child, Maya is reciting a poem in a church. She is feeling ugly because of her dress that her grandmother had made for her. But, she then forgets the poem she was reciting and runs away from the church in embarrassment.
Back in 1931, when she was just at the age of 3, and her elder brother, Bailey was sent to Stamps, Arkansas. They were sent there to live with their paternal grandmother whom they called “Momma” after the breakup of their parents. Both children settled with her and helped her at the store and she also learned to read and do arithmetic.
A night comes where a former sheriff warns Momma to hide her disabled son because the white men were planning revenge after a black man had messed with a white woman. During the time of the Great Depression, Momma keeps her store from going under by allowing the customers to trade their rations for goods.
It was during that one Christmas day when Maya and her elder brother Bailey receive gifts from their parents, whom they assumed to be dead. A year goes by when suddenly their father Daddy Bailey comes to take Maya and Bailey in a fancy car to St.Louis to live with their mother, the beautiful Vivian.
Well, in the beginning, they stay with Vivian’s mother and uncles. Maya and Bailey were always better than everyone at school. It was when the children had moved in with Vivian and her boyfriend the threatening had started. One day Maya was raped, and she conceals her underwear under the mattress.
Somehow, Bailey and Vivian find the garment and realizes what had happened. Maya, on the other hand, lies about Mr. Freeman’s trial about touching her before the rape. Later, Freeman was found dead, having been beaten to death. Soon after that Maya feels guilty about and stops talking to anyone except Bailey. Few months go by then the children were sent back to Momma.
She is happy to be back in Stamps. Mrs. Bertha Flowers takes Angelou under her and asks her to read books and read it aloud, and then she begins talking again. Maya, then did some work for a white lady who goes by the name Mary but, she soon leaves the work ultimately getting fired.
Maya then attends a school where she makes herself a new friend named Louise Kendricks. While studying in school she encounters racism. Maya and Bailey later move to Oakland, California with their mother. There also Maya starts schooling where she is one of three Black students. On the other hand, Vivian’s new husband Daddy Slidell becomes a genuine father to Maya.
Maya also had spent some time with Daddy Bailey and his girlfriend, Dolores. Her stepmother and Maya did not get along. Once when Daddy Bailey and Maya were enjoying a vacation in Mexico Maya lost her track of her father, who then returns to their car too drunk to drive.
Maya not knowing to drive somehow managed to take the car to the Mexico border when she hits a car. Then Daddy Bailey comes in his senses and drives home. Upon their return, Dolores and Daddy Bailey argue, and he walks out. Maya tries to console Dolores but rather ends up slapping Dolores because of insulting Vivian.