This essay consists of three sections. The first section, a brief synopsis of the book “I know why caged bird sings” is presented. At the second part, three insights after reading the book are introduced. That is, metaphor of caged bird, power of literacy, and power of silence. At the last section, discipline-specific knowledge that relevant to the main character of book is stated.
Synopsis of the Text
This autobiography is Maya Angelou’s coming of age story, and follows Marguerite’s (called “My’ or “Maya” by her brother) life from the age of three to seventeen. In this story, Angelou as the storyteller, tells the audience about her experiences as an African American girl living in the Southern United States and her struggles with racism and being raped at eight years old. The book reveals the process of how she overcomes these difficulties and transforms into a self-possessed, dignified young woman, capable of responding to prejudice. Her maturity is mainly gained by her grandmother, Momma, the power of literacy, and the love around her. The book starts with Marguerite at three years old. At three, she was sent to Stamps, Arkansas, with her older brother Bailey to live with her grandmother and crippled uncle. Momma owns a merchandise store in the Stamps, and her store is a center of the African American community. Church, school, and the store are main places that little Maya and her brother live around. They are acquainted with African American life in Stamps which is hopeful in the morning before they go to cut the cotton, then turns dissatisfied and disappointed in the evening when they return from the cotton field. Stamps is a place where the black world and white world is clearly distinctive. Segregation makes them feel fear and hatred towards the white people in Stamps. Maya and her brother’s relatively peaceful lives are disturbed by their father’s appearance at Stamps. He takes them to St. Louis, Missouri, to live with their mother. Later, Maya was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. After her mother’s boyfriend’s death, Maya misconceives that her words lead him to his death, and then she refuses to speak. This make her mother feel helplessness, therefore she decides to send her children to Stamps again. In Stamps, Maya meets Mrs. Bertha Flowers, who supplies her with books to encourage her love of reading and helps her to break through her shell. Later, Momma decides to send her grandchildren to their mother in San Francisco, California, to protect them from the dangers of racism in Stamps. Before Maya graduates, she becomes first African American female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. During her final year of high school, she worries that she might be a lesbian and initiates sexual intercourse with a teenage boy. Later, she finds out that she is pregnant. Maya gives birth at the end of the book and begins her journey to adulthood by accepting her role as a mother. Insights You Obtained from Reading this Text
Metaphor of Caged Bird
In this text, the cage is used to imply many things. In young Maya’s eyes, being black is like living in a cage; she always imagines she could escape from her black skin. In addition, her uncle’s handicapped body is his own cage. African American laborers in the Stamps cotton field are also being caged, because they are repeatedly doing the same labor work day after day, but their life does not seem to change. It is still very tough; they are like the caged bird cannot go anywhere. When the “powhitetrash” girls ridicule Momma, Maya looks through the window and watches the whole process of Momma being ridiculed by these girls. She was angry and wanted to yell at them but she could not, like the caged bird. From reading this text, I could know the severer victimization from racism and the impacts of segregation on African American person’s life at that time. When Maya firstly comes across the...