Maya Angelou explains ( in her autobiography, Why the Caged Bird Sings,) why her religious background and church upbringing are so important to her life and poetic writing. “I came to know Jesus, as I was married and sad, I found in him a resting place, and He made me glad.” (page 124). She also states “The good Lord gave me another day and I’m thankful. (page 122). “I know I am a witness for my Lord.” (Page 124).
“The Bible says, he who can hear let them hear.” Maya wants the world to hear her sing through her poetry. Understanding Maya Angelou’s religious upbringing and faith in God is the key to understanding her as a bblack female poet and writer “caged” in the rascism of America. Her belief in God shapes her writing and gave her the courage to “sing” in a “caged racist society.”
After reading Maya Angelou’s book, Why the Caged Bird Sings, it was obvious that her religious background and upbringing in the church is an important key to understanding her writing. As I read her book , I came to realize the “caged bird” is symbolic of how Maya feels about life. She is the “caged bird.” The cage is the racsim and pejudice in America against Blacks and females. Maya’s poetry is her song. God meant for birds and Maya to sing. God also meant for birds to be free. Maya’s faith in God has freed her to sing her beautiful poetry.
Her religious upbringing gave her the courage to sing through her poetry as a black female trapped in an invisable cage made of racial prejudice and economic poverty. Maya Angelou literally and sybolically sings through her writing and her poetry. The “caged bird” is sybolic of a black female learning to cope and fight against the the racist attitudes and realities that exist in America. Maya knows why the caged bird sings because she realizes she is a caged bird in a rascist society. A caged bird can sing a beautiful song or a black female in America can write beautiful poetry.
Her belief in God set her free to express herself without fear of reprisal. God gave Maya a gift and she uses it to honor God. Her family and church upbringing gives her the confidence and belief in herself that she can succeed base upon her her own character and God-given talents. Maya’s determination and drive to succed as a poet, literally sets her free from the rascist cage she is imprisioned in both as a child and a young woman. A bird is set free when it sings whether it’s caged or not. The act of singing or freely expressin oneself through poetry sets a person free. The soul and spirit cannot be caged. A true belief in God set Maya Angelou free to pursue her dreams and use the literrary talents God gave her.
Religion and family are central influences on Maya Angelou’s life. She called her grandmother, “a big bullheaded Christian who was always witnessing to everyone.” (page 254) Her Grandma was like a mother to her and her brother and always took them to church twice a week. Maya’s grandma was always quoting biblical scripture. Maya believes her grandmother was trying to teach her through the examples of Jesus Christ. “Grandma always had a moral to her religious stories.” (page 131). Like her grandma, Maya takes great comfort in the fact that she has accepted Jesu into her heart and knows she’s going to Heaven. Maya has no fear with God and is free to sing.
Church gatherings are also a major influence on Maya’s life. These gatherings give her a chance to learn the Word of God , and intreract with her peer and elders. Socially and spiritually, Maya finds a place where she’s accepted. She learns to be free of the racial shackles that oppressed her people. She learns to sing like the ” caged bird.” Nothing can keep her from singing even if she and her people are caged. God gives her the faith and belief that she can do anything. Like the old Negro Hymnal states, ” We shall overcome.” Religious revivals bring Maya’s whole community together. Revivals are a way of to bring straying souls to Jesus. It also brings blacks from different churches and nearby communities together as one people. Maya remebers the urge to get up and witness one night and 20 people got saved at that one revivial. God saves them through Jesus and they are free to sing. God frees them from their cages.
Maya Angelou knows why the caged bird sings because she sings like a bird through her poetry. God gives birds the ability to sing and birds sing even when they are caged. Maya Reveals how her belief in God and her church upbringing shapes her life and sets her free to become one of America’s best writers and poets. Her belief in God and her writing set her free.