The world is no stranger to oppression. Madness driven from an inferiority complex based on racial stigma. Prohibition of freedom being yet another way to inflate this expanding social divide between the oppressors and the oppressed, between white and black. Within the poem I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, this concept of social division due to the desire of freedom and the desire to restrict the freedom of others is explored through the implementation of a variety of literary devices: symbolism, metaphors, sudden tone shifts, and a constant underlying allegory. Driven by her own experiences being raised during a time period where segregation and racism were acceptable behavior amongst the masses, Angelou illustrates this problematic normalization of discrimination through the juxtaposition of a free bird to a caged bird to convey the theme of oppression and the hope of freedom brought on by such.
“A Caged Bird” is a poem by Maya Angelou, that describes the struggle of a bird ascending from the restrictions with adverse surroundings. The poem renders the oppression that has affected African Americans over the years. As Angelou explains, the bird fights its imprisonment even with fear, but rises above with the stance of freedom. “Phenomenal Women” by Maya Angelou discusses beauty being in the eye of the beholder. You don’t have to have a perfect physique or focus entirely on outer beauty. Inner beauty has more definition, she explains that women should appreciate their flaws. After all there is only one of you and everyone was created differently.
Huda Paracha 812 To Kill A Mockingbird And Caged Birds “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. ”- Maya Angelou Have you ever had any emotional or physical struggles in your life that sometimes made you feel as if though you were caged and unable to achieve your goal?
Trapped. Nowhere to go and no one to turn to. You sing. But does your song really reach anyone? If you ever felt this way you certainly would have felt like the birds in these poems. In the poems “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou, both portray captive birds that sing. However in “Sympathy”, the bird pleads with god for freedom, whereas in “Caged Bird” the captive bird calls for help from a free bird.
Undoubtedly, having paramount courage and undying love for the human race are the two virtues that anyone aspiring to live a life of purpose must have. In the Wikipedia article "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," Angelou sheds light on the life she led as a child. She highlights the difficulties she had to go through when an opportunity for change was close to impossible (Wikipedia n.p.). Nevertheless, as a courageous young woman who discovered her passion for writing early, she used words to express herself, which later led to her success.
In two poems “Sympathy” written by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” written by Maya Angelou talk about a poor bird that is trapped in a cage and wants to be free. It longs for everything that the free bird has but it cannot achieve it. In both of the poems, there is a use of comparisons between freedom and nature. It is also interpreted from the poems that the use of a song is a form of coping for the birds. Both of the birds sing for their freedom and sing through their pain.
In the two poems Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar and Caged Bird by Maya Angelou, gave a comparison between the life of a caged bird and the life of a slave. There are similarities and differences in the two poems. The difference between the two poem is that Sympathy is more aggressive than the poem Caged Bird, and the similarities of the two poems is the theme and imagery.
The bird is interpreted as the symbol of the African-American people, beating their metaphorical wings against their past cages of slavery, and the current cage of segregation and discrimination. Dunbar highlights this notion, declaring, “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, / When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, - / When he beats his bars and he would be free; / It is not a carol of joy or glee” (Dunbar, “Sympathy” 555). Dunbar addresses the fact that he is able to relate to this bird, and mentions the fact that the bird wishes it could be free; much like the African-Americans wished they could be free from discrimination at the time, while the bruises on the bird’s wings and body symbolize the mental abuse being enforced. Dunbar uses his poem to lay the groundwork for future forms of African-American literature by perpetrating the desire for freedom and equality.
His poem Sympathy is just one example of how he felt trapped like a caged bird in his life. Even though the Civil War was over, African Americans still did not have as many privileges and opportunities as most White people had. Most of Dunbar’s writing showed his perspective of life and the struggles that came with it. Maya Angelou was born in 1928 and suffered a hard childhood that later on affected her writing. When she was eight years old, Maya was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend.
Maya Angelou’s excerpt from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” will imaginatively take a reader away from their deskbound position to envisioning the stage of a play ornamented with fashioned rabbits, buttercups, and daisies, hearing children as they actively perfect their performance, and stimulate the readers’ appetite with the expressive words she uses to describe sweet whiffs of cinnamon and chocolate from the food samples being prepared. From Angelou’s portrayal of the play an individual will be capable of picturing white rabbits crafted from construction paper and cotton balls modelling puffy tails, together with, yellow and pink card board cut outs resembling buttercups and daisies decking a stage. The person who reads this excerpt
Hunter and the caged bird have an external figure that holds them from accomplishing their goals as well as keeping them from their freedom. However, the audience can also envision Ms. Hunter relating to a free bird because of the fact that she steps out of her comfort zones which only true free birds are able to accomplish. This allows the reader to develop a valuable lesson that allows them to realise that one should always aim for their highest and if one is to fail, you can hit a bigger, more impactful objective! Both Ms. Hunter and the caged bird are put into a position where their true intent, their progress, and their sake of advancement is tested based upon their ability to go above and beyond: to reach for the stars. “I know what the caged bird feels.../ when the sun is bright on the upland slopes; /… and the river flows like a stream of glass; / when the first bird sings and the first bus opes, /…
If we look at the time period Dunbar grew up in, there are parallels to be drawn in terms of the poem and his life. The idea of a caged bird, something meant to fly and be free but held captive is similar to what it would have most definitely felt like to grow up during this time as an African American. In fact, Dunbar himself can be viewed as this caged bird, which explains why he knows the things the bird experiences all too well. It would have been extremely hard, even for someone as talented and intelligent as Dunbar to rise up within a community during this time period if they were African American.
Maya Angelou, as a young, black woman with no excess of money, was part of perhaps the most challenged group of people and she was able to blossom and grow even within those conditions. Despite, or perhaps as a result of, her struggles, she was able to see the good in her life and in people and hold her own against the constant discrimination that could have crippled someone else and left them bitter. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou shares the various adversities she faced throughout her life and how she overcame each and every one. Through positive role models like her momma, the glamorous Mrs. Bertha Flowers who gave her “lessons in living” (Angelou 98), her beloved brother, and various others, as well as books which were her constant companion throughout life, she too was able to see past her own conditions and become a better person. Her experiences only served to thicken her skin and instill in her a sense of empathy, determination and an understanding of the world around her.
III. a. Maya Angelou was an avid writer, speaker, activist and teacher. As a result of the many hardships that she suffered while growing up as a poor black woman in the south she has used her own experiences as the subject matter of her written work. In doing this she effectively shows how she was able to overcome her personal obstacles. Her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) tells the story of her life and how she overcame and moved forward triumphantly in spite of her circumstances.
She shows us that despite the injustices that may occur, there will always be victory for those who truly deserve it. Maya Angelou's perspective as a young African American girl is described in Chapter 19 of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, titled Champion of the World. Her community is gathered to support Joe Louis, the former champion, in a boxing match that determines if he'll continue being champion or not. As the story progresses in her grandmother's and uncle’s store, the tone transforms from hopeful to defeated, to triumphant.