The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: An Autobiography

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Ling Jiang
Pd 6.
Independent Reading Assignment

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is an autobiography detailing evens in her life from when she was just five years old to when she has her first child at the age of 16. As I read the novel, I felt as though Angelou wrote it so that she could shine a light on the racism in America. Even though Maya Angelou is “black” and I am “yellow,” I was able to relate to her story on a very personal level. Although I have never been sexually molested as she had been at the age of 8, nor have I ever been pregnant at the age of 16, her coming of age story and the contrast between her closest friend and herself drew me and I was able to relate.

I feel as though the purpose of the text was bluntly stated. As a child, Maya grows up with the mindset that she is ugly because she is “black” and that to be beautiful, one must have blonde hair and blue eyes. In the beginning, as she states that she is in an “ugly black dream” I couldn't help but to relate. Although I am proud of my Asian heritage, I often feel as though I am trapped in this “Asian bubble,” and in order to escape this bubble I need to be a different race, just because in society, it is more “accepted.”

One thing that I loved about the language of the book was that there was so much conversation, to the point where I could picture the people in Angelou’s life speaking to each other. The way she described her characters was simple, yet detailed enough to form a good visual in one’s head. Moreover, I loved the “slang” that she used and the southern accents really made the reading experience so much more realistic. There are many sentence fragments in the autobiography, but to me, they bring me to a place inside her head, where I know what she’s thinking. (Possibly because my thoughts are often like debates of “yes to this, but then again no” in my head).

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is written in chronological order, which makes the events in...
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