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Awards Chatter’ Podcast — Mary J. Free I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings papers, essays, and research papers. Among the hardships are things known as “cages” as stated as a metaphor from Paul Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy. Cages” are things that keep people from succeeding in life and being everything they want to be. Some of Maya Angelou’s cages include being black in the 1940’s and her overbearing grandmother. In my life, a “cage” is my young age, this causes problems with adults. In the autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the main character Marguerite Johnson, is influenced by a preponderance of characters including Bailey Jr.
One of the primary influences is her older brother, Bailey Jr. Momma, or Annie Henderson, the parental grandmother, also plays an important role for Maya. Flowers, the black aristocrat of Stamps, saves Maya during an especially difficult time. All in all, these three characters act as important role models in the development of Marguerite through her juvenile years. Even though Marguerite’s and her brother Bailey’s childhood and early youth are probably far from typical for the average black family of that time, the book nonetheless can be read as a parable of what it meant and still means to be a black person in an overwhelmingly white society. The story is told from a “black” point of view and is thus a more “politically correct” representation of race relationship and prejudice than Harper Lee’s equally famous To Kill a Mockingbird. There is reason to believe that the question of the novel is in its poignant portrayal of race relations.
This explains why the novel has been most controversial in the South, where racial tension is historically worst, and where the novel is partially set. Therefore, understanding the blatant and subtle effects of racism on the young Marguerite help explain the censorship controversy, and the person she became. That common tie that binds these books together is that they all seem to center, in one form or another, around the theme of oppression. Perhaps this is because I have some deep psychological need to diffuse the power struggles I experience within myself by gleaning insight from the pages of someone else’s experience. It is difficult for children to find their place when they are given numerous advantages, but when a child is oppressed by their parents or grandparents, males in their life, and the dominant culture, the road to achieving self-identity is fraught with enormous obstacles to overcome. Throughout her life, Marguerite experiences many different situations and people that all contribute to the way she grows up and the person she becomes.