Maya Angelou Why The Caged Bird Sings Analysis

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Guiding questions:
What is the significance of the China being broken?
How does the use of language portray her rise to power against Miss Glory and Mrs. Cullinan?


On page 119 in the memoir Why the Caged Bird Sings, written by the African-American author Maya Angelou in 1969, she describes how Marguerite decides to go against her boss, Mrs. Cullinan because she calls her Mary instead of her birth name. This leads her to protest by wrecking a China Vase which results in her having to leave her job. During this passage, the author shows how Marguerite feels oppressed by Mrs. Cullinan calling her Mary and how she ends up planning how she can escape her job. This can be seen through the use of language, context, and the surroundings.

Through the use of language, the author is able to show how Marguerite feels the urge to resolve her uncomfortable situation while also showing how she feels relieved by her escape
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Here the use of the words “had to” shows that she has been oppressed to an extent where she does not see any other solutions than quitting her job even though it would probably have consequences for her. Later on in the passage, she says: “When I heard Mrs. Cullinan scream, ‘Mary!’ I picked up the casserole and two of the green glass cup in readiness”. In this sentence, the reader is able to sense how Mrs. Cullinan is deliberately calling the author Mary while the use of the quotation and exclamation point indicates that the author wants to emphasize that it is this specific action which Marguerite feels offended by. The word “readiness” also implies that Marguerite has been planning to drop the glasses and does so deliberately well-knowing the consequences as it is Mrs. Cullinan’s “favorite piece”. Looking back at the situation, Marguerite says that “I could never absolutely describe to Bailey what happened next, because
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