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Maya Angelou - Essay Example

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Summary
Angelou’s Style of Writing Maya Angelou’s exploration of self entrapped under layers of both racism and gender is remarkable in her fictional autobiography ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. The book traces the development of Angelou from a simple child to a mature and responsible adult who shuns away the veils of society to reach her potential (Neubauer)…
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Maya Angelou

Download file to see previous pages... The author believes that the sense of displacement is stronger than the racial prejudice alone (Neubauer): "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." Essentially this work is interlaced with themes such as “self-acceptance, race, men, work, separation, sexuality, motherhood” that can be seen as glued together by the central theme of racism (Lupton). Racism continues not just as a theme in ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ but rather as the underlying fabric on which Angelou’s tale is woven. On the other hand, the theme of motherhood emerges strongly late in the work with the birth of Guy, Angelou’s son. However, subtle references to motherhood remain scattered throughout the work. The connection between Momma Henderson and the author is essentially about motherhood where the older woman serves as Angelou’s link to her social and racial identity. Angelou’s work dwells on the use of metaphor to propagate her point of view. The author has adeptly blended racist undertones and overtones with the metaphor of a caged bird. The utilization of the caged bird stems from Dunbar’s poem titled ‘Sympathy’ where a caged bird is shown singing in order that its prayers for freedom be realized. Angelou likens herself and her community to the caged bird that can see the world around it but remains restricted by the cage from freedom of exploration (McMurry). The African Americans had been emancipated, but socio economic liberties remained few and far in between. The situation in Angelou’s case was exacerbated by a rural community and her female gender. While Dunbar’s caged bird keeps singing in frustration, Angelou is seen as transforming her frustration to her self-acceptance while still being caged by society at large (McMurry). The author has demarcated the cage in the metaphor as social roles that have become so well entrenched that no flexibility or hope for change exists anymore. In Angelou’s tale of self realization and development, society’s roles and statuses serve analogous to the bars of a cage. Among other metaphors, Angelou tends to transform Momma Henderson metaphorically to preserve her image as the community leader. Momma Henderson provides Angelou with a submissive method to deal with life but the author feels that this is not the life for her. Since Momma Henderson is her ideal, Angelou does her best to transform the older woman to preserve her own sense of dignity. Angelou’s metaphorical transformation of Momma Henderson reveals both a desire for gaining respect and the fear of being disrespected (Lupton): "... did an excellent job of sagging from her waist down, but from the waist up she seemed to be pulling for the top of the oak tree across the road." Angelou’s mastery of the pen is also evident in her poetic collections such as ‘And Still I Rise’ where a defiant Angelou is seen fighting against overwhelming odds. The recurrent theme of the collection is emergence from defeat where Angelou keeps repeating that she keeps rising no matter how doleful and discouraging the defeat (Neubauer). The theme of self definition tends to emerge in this work as in other works by Angelou and keeps recurring throughout the entire piece. The author’s use of “I” in her constant reminder of “I rise” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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