If you ask why the caged bird sings, it wants to combat racism and the cage cannot confine it from its freedom. A caged bird’s feet have been tied and locked up where it cannot escape. This bird continues to sing freedom, the bird goes against it’s imprisonment. The fear is there, but it still sings of freedom. This bird is Maya Angelou. Throughout the life of Maya, she suffered through many hardships many couldn’t imagine dealing with. Maya broke her silence and revealed her hardships through this book.
Maya went silent for five years by the virtue of her hardship. As Maya and Bailey visit their mother Vivian, they met her mother’s boyfriend Mr. Freeman. Maya not having much o a father figure, she felt like Mr. Freeman could fill the void. However, Mr. Freeman rapes Maya and threatens to kill Bailey if she tells anyone. This violates all her trust and feelings went out the window, she yet again felt betrayed and abandoned by an adult figure. This causes Maya to go mute for five years feeling like she was the mouthpiece of the devil. Through being sexually abused at such a young age it left an emotional mark on Maya. Through her trials of sexual abuse, before she was abandoned by her own family.
In Maya’s youth age, she suffered abandoning by her mother and father. “Our parents had decided to put an end to their calamitous marriage and father shipped us home to his mother.” (Angelou, 1). Maya and her brother faced rejection and abandonment, with no explanation. Them not understanding why they were sent from the North to the South, left a empty feeling on them. Growing up as a black child with neither of their parents, but during segregation times made it even worse. “She lacks self-esteem as a child, and that could partially be due to the abandonment she faced first at the age of three and again around the age of eight. Maya wishes she were a white girl because whites were seen as beautiful, while blacks were seen as ugly.” The life for her was hard as it was and without a stable household, no one to rely on as a parent, she trusted anyone who seemed to be a figure to her which led to her first sexual abuse encounter. Hardships of abandonment can change anyone as a child, but also with that she lived through racism.
Around the time Maya Angelou grew up, she faced heavy racism. “My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped… This might be the end of the world. If Joe lost were back slavery and beyond help. It would all be true, the accusations that were lower types of human beings. Only a little higher than the ape.” Throughout the novel she had to fear the KKK and work hard with low wages for being black. All while having to hide her growing rage inside. Being raised on the other side of racism and having to watch the people around her being treated badly made her frustrated, not being able to do anything about it. “She just knows that she has been taught taught to resent whites and to not associate with them or there will be trouble.” Racism weighed heavy on all african-americans, Maya suffered through racism which also caused her to trouble with self-acceptance.
Many situations caused Maya to become insecure, making it hard for her to accept herself as a young woman. “Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy step-mother, who has understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big negro girl, with a nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number two pencil. (Angelou, 3)” Maya didn’t accept that she was beautiful the way she was because others only told her different. Going through all her hardships changed her view on herself, making her down herself whenever an opportunity came. “Maya struggled with her self image when she was younger, but once she had her baby she started to view herself differently.” It took for Maya to bring another person on this Earth, to accept herself, which in most cases are reasonable. Maya endured much racism, allowing these hardships to expand her mindset, Maya became more of a woman than a young girl.
“To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision. Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.” (Angelou, 1969). As a young child, Maya had to become a woman instead of being a child to survive her harsh reality. “I had given up youth for knowledge, but my gain was more valuable than the loss.” Maya unable to live her youth life because of the hardships she endured. Without using her knowledge she wouldn’t have made it through her life alone. Many teenagers wouldn’t have been able to do so. “I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise. They shield themselves with an aura of unavailability (for which after a time they begin to take credit) largely as a defense tactic (Angelou, 1969).” Maya became a well knowledged woman throughout her life of a teenager, using her hardships as the reason why.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings holds a very special place in african-americans hearts. It opened a gate way for women around the world, who are afraid to speak on their past, their hardships. “The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve (Angelou, 1969).” Angelou stated things some others couldn’t speak on.