The Use of Setting in Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing Sings as the Portrayal of Self-Realization Achievement as an A - Research Paper Example

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The Course Number 29 May 2012 The Use of Setting in Angelou's “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing Sings” as the Portrayal of Self-Realization Achievement as an African-American Woman In psychology, person’s character in adulthood is believed to be largely influenced by the effect of growing up in particular surroundings…
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The Use of Setting in Angelous I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing Sings as the Portrayal of Self-Realization Achievement as an A
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Download file to see previous pages The story starts in Stamps, Arkansas. Later Maya will experience living in St. Louis, Missouri, also Oakland, California, and San Francisco, California (Angelou). Just as Maya moves from place to place, her identity as a black woman grows stronger. She comes to achieving self-realization through self-empowerment, and from a black girl with inferiority complex she turns into a confident young woman that is able to resist racial prejudice. My goal in this paper is to analyze how Maya achieves self-realization while she is moving from Stamps to St.Louis and to California. Specifically, I will discuss how, in each of these cities, Maya grows to develop a sense of what it really means to be black. She learns to stand for this. Let us start the discussion of Maya transformation from the time she lived in Stamps, Arkansas. Those were Maya’s early years. Following the plot of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Stamps in Arkansas in the 1930s is a typical town in deep American South, where racism and segregation are thriving (Angelou 24-25). According to the deep-seated racist beliefs, African American people deserve being made to wear indignities on a daily basis. To make the matters worse, lynch mobs are common in the society. Maya and her older brother Bailey live with their father’s mother Annie or Momma, who owns a store in Stamps. This store is the only one in the black area of Stamps, so Momma for Maya is a person whom she respects and admires in some way. Maya dreads the horrible conditions which black people are placed in. Every time she watches them going to the field where they pick cotton, Maya realizes this plight. Black people are confined to the status of poor laborers. These cotton-pickers and servants, due to racism, do not have opportunities for advancement, including education. In segregated Stamps, all power be it economic, cultural or political belongs to dominating whites. To illustrate: “In Stamps, the segregation was so complete that most black children didn’t really, absolutely know what whites looked like. Other than that they were different , to be dreaded and in that dread was included the hostility of the powerless against the powerful, the poor against the rich, the worker against the worked for and the ragged against the well-dressed” (Angelou 24-25). Further, the segregation Maya and Bailey encounter in Stamps is evidently based on violence. If one wants to violate the belittling Jim Crow laws, this person will be immediately punished. Both symbolically and realistically, lynching pervades the narrative. Ku Klux Klan is at its peak and white hatred permeates the attitude to the black community. The latter does not even attempt to question the imposed ideology. African Americans in the narrative take their low social status for granted and accept their state of being subjected. Interestingly, they are unable to relate their plight to historical reality, which seemingly could have helped them form a different opinion. For example, Momma unconvincingly explains the roots of white people’s position towards blacks when she wants to clarify the essence of the lynching episode to Bailey: “Momma added that some people said that whitefolks had come over to Africa (she made it sound like a hidden valley on the moon) and stole the colored people and made them slaves, but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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