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Escaped Of The Caged Bird Essay

1510 words - 7 pages

Envision 74 years ago, an African-American that had just returned from war going into a restaurant and not being served because of the Jim Crow laws. As a black person in the 1930's and the 1940's, little power or even respect was given. Blacks, especially women, were not given a felicitous education because it was illegal to acquire and obtain books during this time period (Depression 17). Awarded over fifty honorary degrees, Maya Angelou wrote her best-selling novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Women Memoirist 36). Dealing with the dilemma to learn to read and write, you wonder how one of the best African-American authors of all time could prosper during such hardships. This novel ...view middle of the document...

All of these major financial changes impacted Maya Angelou’s life and separated her from her family. Young Maya was soon going to learn how hard it was
For a young, insecure African-American child like Maya Angelou, it was surpassingly difficult to grow up penniless during such an atrocious time. As a result of the depression, her father lost his job. Maya gained a new perspective from her different surroundings- that being poor and black was a deplorable life that she could never avoid. Luckily for Maya Angelou and her family, her grandmother had a reliable job and didn’t have to face some of the more serious difficulties of the Depression like homelessness, starvation, and diseases. Maya’s world is so completely drawn in the black culture that she often finds it hard to imagine how white people live and look and she becomes defiant towards them (Angelou 64). Maya Angelou was envious of all the opportunities the white kids are given that she is not because she can’t afford it. All Maya ever wanted was to go to school and learn how to read and write, but she could not.
There were still Jim Crow laws that continued the segregation. Jim Crow laws were “legal punishments for consorting with members of another race” (Taylor). These laws were created to keep blacks and whites from interacting and took place in jobs, theaters, schools, etc. From Maya’s perspective there are laws for addressing adults with proper titles, for when to and when not to speak, and how to behave when you are out in public (McMurry 150). Discrimination in the South was much harsher than in the North and many white people viewed the world as black AND white.
One important influence that prompted Angelou’s writing in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was racism and discrimination she experienced starting at a very young age. With Maya Angelou’s parent’s calamitous marriage falling apart, she was shipped to live with her grandmother whom she called Momma in Stamps, Arkansas. Myra K. McMurry described living in the south as “locked in the enigma of inequality and hate” because blacks still did not have any true freedom and were bounded by the laws of segregation and discrimination (McMurry 150). The town of Stamps was a civil ambiguity that drew the line separating the blacks from the whites. In Stamps, Momma had a lucrative business owning the only convenient store that served African-American clienteles. “If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult” (Angelou 4). Young Maya comments that she not only experienced discrimination, racism, and sexual abuse, but other social situations as well, including the displacement she felt from the people around her.
Angelou starts the story off by saying, “What are you looking at me for? I didn’t come to stay…” (Angelou 1). If being black isn’t enough, Maya feels as though she is not pretty enough and continuously puts...

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