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Critical Essay

Travis Dessaure
ENG 311
August 20, 2012

Critical Essay for
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

In "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings", Maya Angelou shows us a dark side of American history and how racism and discrimination can affect people, but she also shows us the power of the human spirit in our ability to overcome negativity and succeed in spite of great difficulties in life. One of the earliest examples of race relations in the book symbolizes the major separation of opportunity for black and white children. On the second page of the book, Marguerite explains how she wished that she would “wake up in a white world, with blond hair, blue eyes, and she would shudder from the nightmare of being black.” Thus, from the beginning of the book, race relations were one of the major themes. The way that Marguerite was thinking at this point, was the same way that other young black children were thinking during this time. They were so use to the white children being praised, they felt that if they looked that way, they would be praised and have the finer things in life as well. According to Valérie Baisné (1994), “Angelou's autobiographies in the midst of literature, were written during and about the American Civil Rights movement. The American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the reform movements in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination against African Lupton states that Caged Bird "captures the vulgarity of white Southern attitudes toward African Americans". Angelou demonstrates, through her involvement with the black community of Stamps, her developing understanding of the rules for surviving in a racist society, something she is not able to articulate for many years, when she finally writes the book. Angelou also vividly presents racist characters "so real one can feel their presence".” Maya Angelou’s early experiences with racism are so powerful, that in 1982, during an interview with Bill...
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