Maya Angelou's Literary Analysis

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Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4th, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1931, after her parents’ divorce, Angelou and her older brother, Bailey, moved to Stamps Arkansas to live with their paternal grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, and her crippled uncle, Willie. Their family resided in the living quarters attached to the back of the small store that they owned. As a young African American girl, Angelou experienced harsh racism and discrimination while in Stamps (Angelou, Maya). At the age of 14, Angelou moved to San Francisco because she had earned a scholarship to study dance and drama at the California Labor School. She dropped out, but became the first African American female cable car conductor. Angelou later finished…show more content…
Walker’s criticism of racial protest, identity, words, and form in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, he reminds the reader of Angelou’s motivation to write her autobiography. She “could not resist” Robert Loomis’s challenge of writing an autobiography “as literature” (Walker). Angelou’s approach to the work is something Walker feels deserves more focus than many “scholarly discussions” give it. As he put, Angelou “arranged and organized [episodes], often undermining the chronology of her childhood story and juxtaposing the events of one chapter with the events of preceding and following ones so that they too comment on each other.” These episodes in Angelou’s life contribute to the “progressive process of affirming identity, learning about words, and resisting racism” (Walker). For example, the scene with the "powhitetrash" girls takes place in the fifth chapter, but occurred when she was about ten. Angelous rape happened about two years before this incident, but appears in chapter twelve. The chapter with the white girls tormenting Angelou’s grandmother begins with Momma teaching Maya not to be dirty or impudent. Momma refuses to succumb to the girls harassment and maintains her dignity. The chapter goes full circle, ending with the symbolic importance of cleanliness and sensibility. This is Maya’s first lesson in silent

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