I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: A Literary Analysis

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“Late he come walking and it be Nightjohn and he bringing us the way to know” (Paulsen page 92). In the novel, Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen, a slave named John decides to secretly share his knowledge of literature with others living on different plantations. After moving to a new plantation, John meets a young slave named Sarny. Sarny was uneducated but had an interest in literature. John knew that it was important to teach Sarny how to read and write so she could also teach other slaves. Yet, the ability to read and write carried risks for slaves like John and Sarny. Within Gary Paulsen’s Nightjohn and “I Know Why The Caged Birds Sings” by Maya Angelou, the theme of live life knowing you made a difference is shown through selflessness and bravery. To begin with, in Nightjohn, the theme of live life knowing you made a difference is exemplified by John. In the text it states, “She don’t know nothing. It was me that taught the girl the letters. I turned and John was standing there. He has stepped forward and he pointed to mammy” (Paulsen page 72). Paulsen’s point is to show that John had developed a concern for the well-being of both Mammy and Sarny. This connects to the theme because John didn’t want…show more content…
In the text it states, “The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom” (Angelou stanza 6). In other words, the poem symbolizes the relationship between Sarny and John. Sarny had been a slave her whole life and always dreamed of an education. John answered her song by teaching her the importance of literature. This shows that because of John’s noble act, Sarny began to hope for a better future. Therefore, the theme of live life knowing you made a difference is shown in both Nightjohn, and “I Know Why The Caged Birds
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