And Why Does The Caged Bird Sing
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And Why Does the Caged Bird Sing….
Born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri Maya Angelou later changed her name to promote her writing. Maya- represents the childhood name her brother Bailey gave her and Angelou is a variation of her married last name. At the age of three her parents divorced and sent her and her younger brother Bailey to live with their paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. When she was seven years old she moved to Chicago to live with her mother and encountered one of the most traumatic experiences of her life. When Maya was eight years old she was sexually assaulted and the man that assaulted her is murdered. This leads to a four year period of Maya only speaking to her brother Bailey. After the attack Maya and Bailey move back to Stamps, Arkansas. In 1940, Maya moves to California to live with her mother. She drops out of high school three years later to become the first black cable conductor in San Francisco. A year later she goes back to school, graduates and later gives birth to her son Guy. Angelou is a single mother until she marries Tosh Angelos. (Shapiro; 1994).

Angelous career started as a singer at the Purple Onion Club, in San Francisco. She later began to write lyrics that turned into poetry, and short stories. She then moved to New York to join the Harlem Writers Guild. In 1960, she becomes the Northeaster Regional Coordinator for Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Appears in off-Broadway play, “The Blacks”, produced as a benefit for the SCLC. She marries her second husband, South African freedom fighter Vusumi Make, and moves to Africa with he and her son Guy in 1962. While in Africa, she becomes an associate editor for Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt and serves as assistant administrator at the School of Music and Drama, University of Ghana. Angelou also works as feature editor for the African Review; and contributor to the Ghanaian Times and Ghanaian Broadcasting Company. (Silvinski Lisandrelli; 1996).

In 1970 “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, an autobiographical novel nominated for National Book Award, is published. The main theme of the novel is Mayas struggle to survive and grow up in a complicated and harsh world. Maya is extremely young when she and her brother are sent from their parents house to live with their grandmother and uncle in Stamps, Arkansas. Life in Stamps is not easy. Momma (what they called their grandmother) is a religious fundamentalist and harsh disciplinarian who does not know how to show her love to the children. There is also a great deal of prejudice against blacks in Stamps. Mayas life becomes even more of a struggle when she goes to live with her mother in California. The beautiful Vivian (Mayas biological mother) makes Maya feel more awkward than ever; she also has no idea how to mother the young Maya. Because of Vivians lack of protectiveness, Maya, at the age of eight, is raped by Mr. Freeman, who is Vivians live-in boyfriend. When Mayas uncles learn about the rape, they beat Freeman to death. After this double tragedy, Maya is filled with guilt and shame. As a result, she goes into a state of silence and emotional exile. Unable to handle her emotionally distraught child, Vivian sends Maya back to Stamps to live with Momma. In Arkansas, Maya finds that her color and her gender complicate her life, for she is treated as a second class citizen. To prove her worth, she buries herself in books and studies and graduates from middle school with honors. Shortly afterwards, Momma decides to take Maya back to California to live, for she fears the racism of Stamps. In California, Maya must compete for her fathers attention. Maya is stabbed by her fathers girlfriend. The act brings back to Maya thoughts of her frightening past. As a result, she decides to run away. For over a month she survives in a junkyard commune of runaways, where she finds her independence and a sense of self-worth. When she returns to live with Vivian, Maya proves that she can overcome the struggles of life. She gets a job as the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco and graduates from high school even though she is eight months pregnant at the time. Her independence and womanhood converge when she gives birth to a son. For the first time in her life, she feels truly needed, connected, and strong. Maya has overcome her many struggle and come of age. (Angelou; 1970)

Angelou went on to write various other poetic works. She has become an acclaimed author, poet, and director. She has overcome many obstacles in life to achieve her status today. She was a black woman, single mother during a time when neither was

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Missouri Maya Angelou And Year Period Of Maya. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from