English Comp II
March 5, 2012
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou's, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” illustrates how an innocent
and naive girl growing up in the midst of the Great Depression overcomes life's
countless obstacles only to become the powerful and influential woman she is today.
Angelou is a world legendary mother, teacher, speaker, author, and actress. Through
this autobiographical piece, Maya's use of symbolic language and allusion
compounds her thoughts, as she depicts how one can take the place of the expected
barriers and soar to new heights.
Through a tragic rape by her mother's boyfriend, Angelou is scared for life and is led to
believe that the very sound of her voice is lethal; accordingly, she conceives a six year silence.
Not knowing at that moment silence could limit her opportunities and convert her fate.
After returning from St. Louis and entering Stamps, Angelou entered her six year "cocoon."
Throughout the book Angelou’s usage of symbolic language conveys her struggle to speak. This retreat
extricated her metamorphic spurt into reality and womanhood. As with every
cocoon, there is always a time when one must leave the nest to fearlessly enter the unknown
world behind the shell. Mrs. Flowers encouraged Angelou to become known, as she assisted her
in finding her strongest defense and force, her love of literature, to open this
barricade and allow Angelou to end the silence. As a result of doing this, it enhanced Angelou’s
courage and eagerness to conquer other barriers.
Angelou’s love of literature expanded and opened her horizons. One of Angelou’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, rather
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