Analysis Of Maya Angelou's 'I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings'

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Ossie Davis says, “I find, in being black, a thing of beauty: a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness”1. African Americans have a different perspective about living in society. They are ostracized because of their color, and often have less freedom than that a white person. Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, addresses the problems of African Americans in her autobiography. Cudjoe believes that, “The world to which Angelou introduces us is embroidered with humiliation, violation, displacement, and loss” (27)2. She uses examples such as: racism, segregation, African American women, beauty, and growing up as an African American, to prove her theme of being an African American. Many African Americans have to struggle …show more content…
They are forced to not only listen to what the whites say to them, but also to not say anything in regard to whites. In the novel, after an African American man defeats a white man in wrestling, other African Americans are careful about their actions. Eller requotes Angelou saying “It wouldn’t do for a Black man and his family to be caught on a lonely country road on a night when Joe Louis had proved we were the strongest people in the world” (145)6. African Americans are treated cruelly, even if they did not commit a crime. Maya tells us, “They would have surely found Uncle Willie and just as surely lynched him” (19)7. Because whites have no sympathy for African Americans, lynching is a common fear among the African Americans. After Bailey had seen a dead, black man, he tells Maya, his sister, “The colored men backed off and I did too, but the white man stood there, looking down, and grinned” …show more content…
She believed “Whitefolks couldn’t be people because their feet were too small, their skin too white and see-throughy, and they didn’t walk on the balls of their feet the way people did – they walked on their heels like horses” (26)20. Because Marguerite thinks that whites are flawless, critic Moore explains, “ ‘What you lookin at me for…’ is the painful question of every black girl made self conscious and self-doubting by a white world critical of her very existence” (37)21. In Marguerite’s eyes, blacks cannot be beautiful. She wishes she could be white. Marguerite tells the reader, “… I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet, and a space between her teeth that would hold a number- two pencil” (4/5)22. As Marguerite continues to grow up, she begins to understand that no matter her skin color, she is

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