Analysis Of The Theme Of Racism In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

866 words - 3 pages

In Maya Angelou's autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, manymajor themes are implemented to describe the harsh reality of growing-up in the southand being black. She uses the universal themes of racism, cruelty, education,abandonment, and many others to show the reader what she has persevered overthroughout her life to become the strong, independent woman that she is today. One suchtheme in her autobiography, prevalent throughout the duration of the book, is that ofracism. Three instances in her life where she must fight against racism are at her eighth-grade graduation, at her first employment with a white woman, and with Bailey Jr.,Maya's brother, after he witnesses a lynching. The theme of racism is employed to showthe reader what it was like to grow-up black in a segregated society.An example of how Maya Angelou is affected by the ugliness of racism is at hereighth-grade graduation from Lafayette County Training School. In Stamps, the blackcommunity revered the graduation as a great event. It is so great that there will be awhite speaker. Maya sits through the beginning of the graduation ceremony with a senseof doom. She feels that something is going to ruin the joyous occasion for her and thegraduating class. The white speaker, Mr. Donleavy, gives his oration on theimprovements the children of Stamps had to look forward to. He spoke of how the whitechildren at the Central School would get new science equipment and a well known artistto teach them art. These improvements were made graciously possible because of him.He assures the graduating class that they were not to be left out. He tells them that he has"pointed out to people of a very high level that one of the first-line football tacklers atArkansas Agricultural and Mechanical College had graduated from good old LafayetteCounty Training School". Maya feels that he has diminished the joy of her graduation byimplying that the only way she and her black classmates could achieve greatness is bybecoming athletes. This infuriates Maya. She begins to think how white society feelsthat she and her classmates have no control over their own destiny. After his speech, Mr.Donleavy rushes from the dais and leaves the graduates in the wake of his speech. Afterhe leaves, the ceremony continues with Elouise, the daughter of the Baptist minister,reciting "Invictus". Maya feels she could cry at the "impertince of 'I am the master ofmy fate, I am the captain of my soul'". The valedictorian, Henry Reed, gives his speechentitled "To be or not to be" which lightens the somber...

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