In this novel, the main character, Marguerite Johnson or Maya, experiences many events that put her through a variety of psychological states. From the time that she is abandoned as a child and sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, to giving birth as a sixteen year old woman, Maya experiences a wide variety of events and challenges, each having their own outcome and own effect on her state of mind. Angelou embodies these effects and feelings of displacement and alienation when she says “If growing up is painful for the southern black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.” (Angelou 4). Through this reflection, Angelou shows the turmoil that Maya is going through even during her early stages of life, and foreshadows the future struggle that is yet to come.
The first event that has a significant effect on Maya is the discovery that she was willfully given up by her parents. This discovery leads Maya to feel betrayed, and alienated from the rest of her family. This new knowledge leads her to see that not only was she given up by choice, but also the self-doubt that causes her to ask herself what she did wrong to deserve it. “The gifts opened doors to questions that neither of us wanted to ask. Why did they send us away? and What did we do so wrong? So wrong?” (Angelou 53). This introduction of self-doubt and feelings of alienation are what set up the opportunity for future tragedies and painful events in Maya’s life.
One of these tragedies that occur is the molestation and rape of Maya by Mr. Freeman. Because of the fact that Maya is in a place of darkness and confusion in her life because of the new environment that she I thrust into, her need for love and attention gives Mr. Freeman the chance to take advantage of her. Though Maya does not feel completely
Cited: Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House, 1970. Print.