In the novel I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou goes from a little southern black girl who wishes to be a a long and blonde haired, light-blue eyed, white girl, to a very mature young adult that is proud of her race. Throughout s (Mayas) life she goes through many difficulties and triumphs. Some of which a person could never imagine of going through. Maya goes from being a very shy and strange black girl, to a certain and self-confident young woman. In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, has to deal with prejudice, rape, and also the issues of abandonment in her course of becoming a mature woman.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings takes place in the 1930s to the 1940s. During this time period Blacks were discriminated against. Being a child in this period, Maya experiences how difficult life is with prejudice people. For example, with all the discrimination going on, Maya wishes to be a white girl. She says Wouldnt they be surprised when one day I woke out of my black ugly dream, and my real hair, which was long and blond, would take the place of the kinky mass that Momma wouldnt let me straighten?
My light-blue eyes were going to hypnotize them….. Then they would understand why I had never picked up a Southern accent, or spoke the common slang, and why I had to be forced to eat pigs tails and snouts. Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth. She experiences how mean and harsh white people are to the black people. For example, Maya saw her grandmother Momma be insulted by a bunch of powitetrash kids.
They were making fun of how she was standing on the front porch and how she was humming Church songs. After getting bored of mocking her, one of the girls had revealed herself to Momma. Throughout the whole episode Momma stood straight and stiff and kept humming her Hymns. This showed Maya that a black person doesnt have to always react to what white people say or do towards them. Being strong and showing that a person is not afraid is the best thing to do when being harassed. Momma also contributes to Mayas maturing by Maya starts to take pride in her race even with all the prejudice.
Momma stands up and speaks out to the white dentist, which was the only one in Stamps, who wouldnt treat Mayas toothache because he didnt want to put his hand into a black persons mouth. He says that he would rather put his hand down a dogs mouth than Mayas. Another example of Maya beginning to take pride in her race is when a white man came to her grammar school graduation and spoke of the future for the white and black school. The white school would get all the new Science equipment, and the black students would get a playing field.
He told the black students that the whites were going to be the smart Galileos and Madame Curries, and the blacks were going to be the athletes, maids and farmers, handymen and washerwomen. This had angered Maya and others and they all participated in the Negro National Anthem. She then said I was no longer simply a member of the proud graduating class of 1940; I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race. Maya overcomes the discriminations of this time and starts to slowly mature. She has many other hard things to overcome on her path to becoming a mature young adult.
Maya has to deal with the hardest thing that anybody could imagine a child to go through. She deals with a rape. Mayas rape was a very difficult thing to overcome. It took a lot of time and help from others. Mayas mother had let her and Bailey (her brother) to come and live with her and her boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. No girl would ever think that a man would ever do something as bad as rape to them. Maya looked at Mr. Freeman as a father figure. He was the only real man that was a part of her life.
Being at a young age she thought that Mr. Freeman just loved and cared for her, just like any little girl would. But it went farther and farther. Mr. Freeman eventually forces her to have sex, and threatens her not to tell anybody. Any frightened little girl would have no idea what to do except to be quiet, like Maya had done. Going through this horrifying experience she became stronger and stronger. She had to deal with the rape and having everyone know about it. Maya first deals with the rape by going into a depression. She doesnt talk or do anything.
Maya then finds a good role model who helps her to overcome the rape and to grow up. Mrs. Bertha Flowers. Having a role model gives Maya a chance to get over the rape and learn to cope with it. Mrs. Flowers allowed Maya to come out of her depression and learn about many different things. For example, to help Maya to come out of depression she says to her Now no one is going to make you talk-possibly no one can. But bear in mind, language is mans way of communicating with his fellow man and it is language alone which separates him from the lower animal.
Mrs. Flowers, also introduces Maya to reading books, she learns that she must be biased of ignorance, but understanding of the illiteracy, and also Mrs. Flowers introduced her to cookies and tea. Mrs. Flowers is a big influence on Maya by she helps her to overcome the rape and teaches her about the different things in life. But Maya still overcomes another hard issue that contributes to her maturing. Abandonment is an issue that many kids go through. Kids parents today often abandon them and give them to other people to take care of them.
In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya is like many other kids and abandoned by her mother and father, and she has to learn to take care of herself. When a person is abandoned, they learn about the hard roads of life. Nobody is there to help them through it. A person is alone and learns to live life the best that they know how. Abandonment is a big part of Mayas life. For example, when she first moved to Stamps it was because her mother and father could not take care of her or Bailey. Maya had to deal with the fact that her mother and father did not want the responsibility of taking care of her or her brother.
So, she and Bailey take care of each other. They help each other out in bad situations, and they can only talk with each other. For example, when Maya was raped the only person that she could talk to was Bailey. So, at a young age Maya already was learning to take care of herself. This leads to many other times of being abandoned. When Maya and Bailey moved back to their mothers house in California she sent them back to Mommas house in Stamps, because she couldnt deal with the fact that Maya had been raped by her boyfriend.
Maya then had to deal with the rape all by herself and the only guidance she had was from a friend Mrs. Flowers. Maya also is abandoned when she goes to spend the summer with her father. This is because Maya and her fathers girlfriend, Dolores, did not get along so her father told her to sleep at a neighbors house and abandoned her. Maya wound up sleeping in a car in a junkyard and lived life with other abandoned kids. This event was very important in her maturing. This is because she then starts to take on responsibilities of surviving and deciding to go back to her mothers house.
In doing this Maya overcomes many different obstacles. She goes out into the world of discrimination and looks for a job. In all the times of trying to become a conductor she finally succeeds and gets it. This is a great accomplishment to her because she becomes the first black conductor. She had no help from anyone and did it all by herself. She is also deserted when she is questioning her sexuality. This means that Maya was not certain if she was a lesbian or not. So, without help from her mother she goes to the first guy she sees and has sex with him.
If her mother had not let her alone and guided her through this problem she would never had done this. In doing this she becomes pregnant. This is when Maya really matures and learns that she must grow up. Without any guidance through her life she never knew the difference between right or wrong. All the times that she was abandoned or not guided through her childhood resulted in her getting pregnant. If Maya was never abandoned from her parents and other people then maybe she would have never made these bad choices.
During this time period and living in the South, it makes Mayas life difficult to experience. She grows up very fast and learns about things that a normal child or teenager would not know at this time. She matures quickly by the discriminations, her rape, and being abandoned throughout her childhood. As a teenager, Maya seems to be an older woman because of all the difficulties and the triumphs that she has gone through. Today, kids are growing up very quickly, and they need the help of adults and examples from adults to understand whats going on around them.