I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou is a celebrated black, female poet and writer in our 21st century, however in her collections of memoirs she retells her experiences and her struggles as a black, female child growing up in a white male-dominated society during the 20th century.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is the first installation of her collection of memoirs.The seven-part memoir tackles topics such as womanhood, innocence and family. In this memoir, it shares the retelling’s of Angelou’s upbringing. Angelou was abandoned by both of her parents and as a result her and her brother, had to relocate to Arkansas to live with their grandmother. Angelou and her brother were responsible for maintaining and running their grandmother’s general store, this led Angelou and her family to encounter and interact with different groups of people. Angelou at a young age was exposed to racism and was in a position to tolerate it, in order to protect herself and her family. 

For a child, Angelou was forced to mature at a faster pace in order to understand and function in the world around her. She did not always completely understand the workings of racism, but was aware that black people lived and were treated differently. 

The memoir has multiple surprises, and readers will be shocked with the amount of trauma that Angelou had to endure at such a young age. However, Angelou proves that she is a powerful force, since she was able to overcome the obstacles that challenged her life, identity and being.

After finishing the memoir, readers will know why the title perfectly fits the first chapter of Angelou’s life.

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