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Angelou connects the violation of her body and the devaluation of her words through the depiction of her self-imposed, five-year-long silence. African-American literature scholar Selwyn R. Cudjoe calls Angelou's depiction of the rape "a burden" of Caged Bird : a demonstration of "the manner in which the Black female is violated in her tender years and She also wanted to prevent it from happening to someone else, so that anyone who had been raped might gain understanding and not blame herself for it.

As Lupton points out, all of Angelou's autobiographies, especially Caged Bird and its immediate sequel Gather Together in My Name , are "very much concerned with what [Angelou] knew and how she learned it". Lupton compares Angelou's informal education with the education of other Black writers of the twentieth century, who did not earn official degrees and depended upon the "direct instruction of African American cultural forms".

Angelou is influenced by writers introduced to her by Mrs. Angelou states, early in Caged Bird , that she, as the Maya character, "met and fell in love with William Shakespeare". Vermillion maintains that Maya finds comfort in the poem's identification with suffering. She is so involved in her fantasy world of books that she even uses them as a way to cope with her rape, [93] writing in Caged Bird , " I was sure that any minute my mother or Bailey or the Green Hornet would bust in the door and save me".

According to Walker, the power of words is another theme that appears repeatedly in Caged Bird. For example, Maya chooses to not speak after her rape because she is afraid of the destructive power of words. Flowers, by introducing her to classic literature and poetry, teaches her about the positive power of language and empowers Maya to speak again.

The public library is a "quiet refuge" to which Maya retreats when she experiences crisis. Angelou was also powerfully affected by slave narratives , spirituals , poetry, and other autobiographies. In Caged Bird , Mrs. Flowers encourages her to listen carefully to "Mother Wit", [99] which Hagen defines as the collective wisdom of the African-American community as expressed in folklore and humor.

Angelou's humor in Caged Bird and in all her autobiographies is drawn from Black folklore and is used to demonstrate that in spite of severe racism and oppression, Black people thrive and are, as Hagen states, "a community of song and laughter and courage". These elements include the act of testimony when speaking of one's life and struggles, ironic understatement, and the use of natural metaphors, rhythms, and intonations.

Hagen also sees elements of African American sermonizing in Caged Bird. Angelou's use of African-American oral traditions creates a sense of community in her readers, and identifies those who belong to it. The other volumes in her series of seven autobiographies are judged and compared to Caged Bird. By the end of , critics had placed Angelou in the tradition of other Black autobiographers. Poet James Bertolino asserts that Caged Bird "is one of the essential books produced by our culture".

He insists that "[w]e should all read it, especially our children".

Caged Bird - Poem by Maya Angelou

Critic Robert A. Gross called Caged Bird "a tour de force of language". Guiney, who reported that Caged Bird was "one of the best autobiographies of its kind that I have read". Gross praised Angelou for her use of rich and dazzling images. By the mids, Caged Bird had gone through 20 hardback printings and 32 paperback printings. Caged Bird had sold steadily since its publication, but it increased by percent. The page publication of "On the Pulse of Morning" became a best-seller, and the recording of the poem was awarded a Grammy Award.

The Bantam Books edition of Caged Bird was a bestseller for 36 weeks, and they had to reprint , copies of her books to meet demand. Random House , which published Angelou's hardcover books and the poem later that year, reported that they sold more of her books in January than they did in all of , marking a 1, percent increase. The book's reception has not been universally positive; for example, author Francine Prose considers its inclusion in the high school curriculum as partly responsible for the "dumbing down" of American society.

Prose calls the book "manipulative melodrama", and considers Angelou's writing style an inferior example of poetic prose in memoir. She accuses Angelou of combining a dozen metaphors in one paragraph and for "obscuring ideas that could be expressed so much more simply and felicitously". Parents have also objected to the book's use of profanity and to its graphic and violent depiction of rape and racism. When Caged Bird was published in , Angelou was hailed as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African-American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life.

Up to that point, Black women writers were marginalized to the point that they were unable to present themselves as central characters.


Writer Julian Mayfield, who called Caged Bird "a work of art that eludes description", [35] has insisted that Angelou's autobiographies set a precedent for African-American autobiography as a whole. Als insisted that Caged Bird marked one of the first times that a Black autobiographer could, as Als put it, "write about blackness from the inside, without apology or defense".

America's most visible black woman autobiographer". Angelou's writings, more interested in self-revelation than in politics or feminism, freed many other women writers to "open themselves up without shame to the eyes of the world". Angelou's autobiographies, especially the first volume, have been used in narrative and multicultural approaches to teacher education. Jocelyn A. Glazier, a professor at George Washington University , has used Caged Bird and Gather Together in My Name when training teachers to appropriately explore racism in their classrooms.

Angelou's use of understatement, self-mockery, humor, and irony causes readers of Angelou's autobiographies to wonder what she "left out" and to be unsure how to respond to the events Angelou describes. These techniques force white readers to explore their feelings about race and their privileged status in society. Glazier found that although critics have focused on where Angelou fits within the genre of African-American autobiography and her literary techniques, readers react to her storytelling with "surprise, particularly when [they] enter the text with certain expectations about the genre of autobiography".

Educator Daniel Challener, in his book Stories of Resilience in Childhood , analyzed the events in Caged Bird to illustrate resiliency in children. Challener states that Angelou's book provides a useful framework for exploring the obstacles many children like Maya face and how a community helps these children succeed as Angelou did. He has called the book a highly effective tool for providing real-life examples of these psychological concepts. Caged Bird has been criticized by many parents, causing it to be removed from school curricula and library shelves. The book was approved to be taught in public schools and was placed in public school libraries through the U.

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It has been challenged in fifteen U. Educators have responded to these challenges by removing it from reading lists and libraries, by providing students with alternatives, and by requiring parental permission from students. Caged Bird appeared third on the American Library Association ALA list of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of —, [] sixth on the ALA's — list, [] and one of the ten books most frequently banned from high school and junior high school libraries and classrooms.

Angelou and Leonora Thuna wrote the screenplay; the movie was directed by Fielder Cook. Constance Good played young Maya. Also appearing were actors Esther Rolle , Roger E. Angelou added a scene between Maya and Uncle Willie after the Joe Louis fight; in it, he expresses his feelings of redemption and hope after Louis defeats a white opponent.

In the book, Henry Reed delivers the valedictory speech and leads the Black audience in the Negro national anthem. In the movie, Maya conducts these activities.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings | Study Guide

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. She'd set the bar high. Her ambition was to write a book that would honor the Black experience and affirm the 'human spirit. She wrote a coming-of-age story that has become a modern classic". Main article: Themes in Maya Angelou's autobiographies. The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of male prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power. The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.

It should be clear, however, that this portrayal of rape is hardly titillating or "pornographic. Caged Bird elicits criticism for its honest depiction of rape, its exploration of the ugly specter of racism in America, its recounting of the circumstances of Angelou's own out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy, and its humorous poking at the foibles of the institutional church.

Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 28 June USA Today. Retrieved 29 June The Guardian. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June The Washington Times. Associated Press. National Public Radio. Poetry Foundation. She yearns for more intellectual fulfillment, and she doesn't fully relate to the strong role of religion in the community. At age seven, she's taken to a completely different situation in St.

Her mother's raucous extended family, with its ties to the St. Louis underworld, is a far cry from the staid religiosity of Momma and Uncle Willie in Stamps. Going back to Stamps after her rape is a relief to Maya; it becomes a sort of cocoon in which she can heal. Her next move, to California to be with her mother, ultimately brings her the sense of community she'd been searching for. San Francisco is the first place where she really feels at home, and when her mother remarries, Maya becomes part of a "real" family for the first time. Maya's experience of living with the homeless teens opens her eyes to the importance of acceptance and tolerance in any community.

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Names and Identity When she's a very young child seeking acceptance, Maya wants to reject her identity as an African American. Power of Words When Maya is dealing with abandonment as a child, she turns to books for solace and companionship, sharing her love of reading with her brother, Bailey. Community Maya starts out life with a feeling of displacement when she is sent to live with her paternal grandmother in the segregated country town of Sparks, Arkansas.

Song of the Caged Bird (song) | Lindsey Stirling Wikia | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Symbols Author Biography. The play, adapted by locals Myra Platt and Malika Oyetimein, begins with grown-up Angelou Brennie Tellu, who plays the character as both intimidatingly majestic and quick to crack a smile walking onstage with a few props: a Bible, a deck of cards, a thesaurus, yellow notepads, a bottle of sherry. In that moment, 8-year-old Maya made a heartbreaking miscalculation. Louis city folks. By the end of the first act, you know what someone in white gloves means: alien, cold, not bringing any good news. But the frigidity of the white gloves melts in the face of the warm triumvirate of grown-up Angelou Tellu, who acts as our narrator and guide , young Maya Keita and her boisterous older brother, Bailey Chip Sherman.