Self-Image In Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

805 Words 4 Pages
The dictionary defines self-image as the idea one has of his/her abilities, appearance, and personality. Self-image is the way one sees him/herself and the opinion one has of him/herself. One’s view of him/herself will change over time as he/she interacts with more people. Self-image is also reflected in novels. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the autobiography of Maya Angelou. The novel is about the obstacles she faces and the hardships that she overcomes as an insecure African American girl in the 1930’s. Maya’s self-image changes many times throughout the novel. The relationships one has with the people around him/her may negatively affect his/her self-image. Relationships with family members can negatively affect one’s self-image. For example, in the novel I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, …show more content…
Freeman, who is put on trial for assaulting Maya, impacts Marguerite’s self-image by making her think that it is her voice that leads to his death. The author says, “...but if I talked to anyone else that person might die too” (Angelou 87). If Mr. Freeman did not assault Marguerite then she would be under the impression that her voice would kill people. She sees her voice as deadly and is too scared to use it for a while after the incident. He makes her feel guilty for something that is not her fault. Furthermore, Edward Donleavy, the white politician who spoke at graduation, also harmed Marguerite’s self-image. After his speech at graduation, Maya talks about how he makes her feel and says, “As a species, we were an abomination” (181). The speech is about the white school getting new science sets and artists while the black school might get a new playing field because Donleavy thinks that they are only good at sports. After the speech, Marguerite thinks that she has no control over her life and that she is a disgrace because of the color of her skin. She sees herself in a different way. The speech also makes her feel as if she is not good

Related Documents