Maya Angelou's Themes In I Know Why The Caged Bird

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Born in the South in the late 1920’s, Maya Angelou witnessed segregation and racial oppression for most of her life. During the Civil Rights movement Angelou became an activist alongside the company of Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Though she participated in marches and protests, advocating civil fairness and equality among people, she refrained from public speaking. Instead, Angelou expressed her voice on paper, publishing a number of inspirational poems as well as he famous novel I know why the caged bird sings. In her writing she unveils the challenges that minorities face and the equal importance of their lives as human beings through her use of personification, imagery, and metaphor. Maya Angelou personifies natural or fictional characters in her poems which makes their themes more translative to individuals. In “I know why the caged bird sings,” Angelou personifies the bird to represent a person by saying the bird fears “things unknown but longed for still” (Angelou 11). By giving the bird, an animal which by nature should only concern itself with eating and mating, the fear of not knowing what could be achieved, she relates the bird to a person whom has hopes and dreams in life. In the poem the free bird “floats downstream / Till the current ends and dips his wings” (Angelou 2-3). The bird (or man) that possesses freedom also possesses the ability and opportunity to travel on the wind of their dreams until they achieve them or give up; at least they have

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