Maya Angelou Research Papers

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“Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number-two pencil” (pg. 3). I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Maya Angelou’s autobiography of her early life, growing into a young woman, and finding herself in the process. Maya Angelou grew up in the time of Segregation, trying to discover who she was separated from the rest of the world. With only her brother Bailey, and her grandmother, “Momma,” to take solace in, for most of her early life she felt as though she had no friends. The title is a metaphor. Angelou is the caged bird and she sings because she found…show more content…
She always had her grandmother and her brother, though, to make her happy. When she was around eight or nine, she discovered another outlet: reading. She loved reading William Shakespeare, but felt bad because he was a white man. Additionally, not only did she struggle with being African American, she was forced to grow up being called ugly, while she had a beautiful and graceful brother, Bailey. Bailey is described as: “small, graceful and smooth… he was lauded for his velvet-black skin. His hair fell down in black curls” (pg. 22). Maya depended on Bailey from a very young age. Bailey is protective and independent, but still seeks desperate approval from those he loves. The main figure in her life to guide her was her grandmother, whom she called “Momma.” Momma was greatly respected in Stamps, for she was African American with an exceptionally successful business. She knew how to win a battle in silence, and run a Caucasian person out of town with a few simple words. With Bailey and Momma, Maya was safe. All of that changed when the siblings went to live with their mother in St. Louis. There, they meet dozens of crime figures, including Mr. Freeman, their mother’s boyfriend. At only eight years old, Maya does not understand the idea of rape until she ends up in the hospital. Mr. Freeman is later shot and killed. When they return to Stamps, Bailey is heartbroken, for he

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