I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) penned by Maya Angelou is a feminist autobiography whose main themes are freedom, oppression, the coming-of-age, the African-American woman, racism, displacement, motherhood, family and self-esteem…
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Written contemporaneously with the Civil Rights Movement, this bildungsroman novel elucidates on the life and struggles of a young, African-American girl on a life journey from the ages of 3 to 16. Influenced strongly by Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy” (1899), and her own poem titled, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” (1969), Maya Angelou manages to retell her own story, using the caged bird as a metaphor for a victim of oppression. Common subjects that knit the poem to the novel are oppression and freedom, ugly realities and beauty. Maya undergoes psychological stages of development which synchronizes with Erik Erikson’s model.
The developmental theories concur in explaining mental, physical, sexual, social, and moral development of the human being. Erik Erikson is one of the psychological fathers of developmental theories. Erikson focused on psychosocial development and was a disciple of Sigmund Freud. He traces the personality growth of the child as he interacts with his physical and social environment and the child’s maturing awareness through eight stages of development. Each stage of development is critical to maturity and retains a dynamic impact on the life of the adult. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) is an acclaimed novel written by Maya Angelou and represents a bildungsroman novel in which the protagonist undergoes a life journey from childhood to adulthood. Originated in a place called Stamps, Maya starts off life as a poor African-American girl growing up in a broken home with little regard for herself. In the novel she faces disillusionment, overt and hidden racism, abuse and rape. Through it all, she retains self-determination and learns to heal from the wounds of the past. She succeeds at many endeavors however, becomes pregnant at the end of the book, birthing her first son Guy. Following Erik Erikson’s stages of development theory, the protagonist Maya enters the world as a plain, poor, uneducated African-American girl who experiences incest at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. Erikson pinpoints eight major levels of psychosocial development a) basic trust versus mistrust b) autonomy versus shame and doubt c) initiative versus guilt d) industry versus inferiority e) identity achievement versus role confusion f) intimacy versus isolation, g) generativity versus stagnation, h) ego integrity versus despair. Throughout these stages Maya feels herself bound by the chains of racial oppression, female subjugation, socio-economic hardship, inferiority complex, low self-esteem, loneliness and fear. Basic trust versus mistrust Maya develops from basic, child-like trust into a mature mistrust. She transitions through this stages because she encounters harsh realities involving the betrayal of trust. As a child she initially trusts the adults and family in her life such as Momma Henderson, Bailey Johnson Jr, Mr. McElroy, Daddy Clidell and Uncle Willie; however, she experiences a series of betrayals: rape at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, absence of her father (Bailey Sr.), the separation of her family, periodic let-downs by her brother Bailey Jr. (her closest friend) and the persecution of the children who continually tease her. Her mistrust of the world leads her to become distrustful until she locks up herself in a mute and isolated world. Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt Autonomy vs. shame and doubt is another developmental phase in Maya’s life. Owing to her itinerant lifestyle and broken home, Maya acquire a unique level of autonomy. She knows firsthand life alone and homeless and hardship spurs her to learn to depend on herself. Maya relishes her newfound freedom as “
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(I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) by Maya Angelou in the Essay)
“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) by Maya Angelou in the Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/psychology/1439573-i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings-1969-by-maya-angelou-in-the-psychoanalytic-context-of-erik-eriksons-stages-of-development.
The author states that Momma refuses to retreat inside their Store and show cowardice and accept defeat. Momma reacts to the girls with cool poise and maturity, silently sending her message that she is stronger and better than them. This reaction diffuses the white girls’ nerves, making them aware of how stupid and ridiculous their behavior is.
The so called ‘literary canon’ is an ever-evolving catalogue of the most important, prestigious and talented authors who have ever written in the English language, and to have one of your works described as ‘canonical’ is probably one of the best praises a writer could ever receive.
The plot begins where the Maya is sent by the parents to live with the grandmother and ends up becoming a mother a 17. In the book, Maya is transformed and she is able to overcome racism and turns to be dignified and self-possessed.This autobiography reveals subjects like rape, identity, literacy, and racism.
This is in consideration that she comes from a broken family, and her parents are divorced. As a young girl, she believes that she is ugly and she constantly faces ridicule from other children with only her brother to defend and support her. She eventually comes to realize that she is black, and that she will always be black.
One of the author’s strongest themes throughout the work is displacement. Angelou and her brother are moved by their parents so that they can avoid racism though this is never fully possible. The displacement is not limited to geography alone but to racial undertones as well.
While examining the Greek culture along with the Islamic empire and their respective advancements in science, a realization is made that culture or closely held beliefs are often inseparable from the scientific thought of a nation (Magner, 2002).
At the same time, the topic
Essentially, the story tells of Maya’s existence from the age of 3 when, with her 4-year-old brother, she was placed on a train with nametags and an address and shipped to her paternal grandmother’s home in the South to the age of
In relating the scenario with the real world, many people especially young girls and women in the society are extremely affected by the comments and perception they get from other society. This makes them have low
The book, therefore, explores major strategies employed by women when dealing with inequality issues during bumpy moment of their lives (Angelou 10).
In Chapter 13, the author has illustrated the hard life experiences faced by Black women in a society dominated by the
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