An Analysis of Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

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An Analysis of Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

Julie Gibson

Maya Angelou's I Know Why Caged Bird Sings illustrates how an innocent and naive girl growing up in the midst of the Great Depression overcomes life's many obstacles and becomes the powerful and influential woman she is today. Maya is a world renowned author, teacher, speaker, actress, and mother. Through this autobiographical piece, Maya's use of figurative language and allusion compounds her thoughts, as she depicts how one can supersede the expected barriers and soar to new heights..

In chapters 14 and 15 of the book, Maya's usage of figurative language conveys her struggle to speak. Through a tragic rape by her mother's boyfriend, Maya is scared for life and is led to believe that the very sound of her voice is lethal, consequently, she conceives a six year silence that, not knowing then, could limit her opportunities and convert her fate. After returning from St. Louis and entering Stamps, Maya entered her six year "cocoon." This haven extricated her metamorphic spurt into reality and womanhood. As with every cocoon, there is always a time when one must leave and bravely enter the unknown world behind the shell. Mrs. Flowers encouraged Maya to emerge and assisted her in finding her strongest defense and force, her love of literature, to open this barrier and allow Maya to end the silence. By doing this, it enhanced Maya's courage and willingness to conquer other barriers and fortresses. Maya's love of literature expanded and opened her horizons. One of Maya's favorite pieces of literature is The Tale of Two Cities. She enjoyed it because it was a tale of her life, although in different cities, now being St. Louis and Stamps, it seemed as if she was reading her own autobiography, which is, in fact, rather portentous and foreshadowing. With the first line of the book being, "it was the best of times and the worst of times...", it paints a portrait of Maya's childhood....
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