I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Influences On Maya

1095 words - 4 pages

A Lifetime of Influence Marguerite Johnson had a harsh childhood growing up in the South during the days of cotton picking and slavery. All of the adversity she encountered when she was young inspired her to write the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In it, she depicts what life was like growing up in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas, and illustrates the daily hardships that were roadblocks throughout her life. Many people help her overcome these obstructions in her young life, but it was the people closest to her who enable her to rise above the adversity she faced. Although a vast number of people came into and out of her life, only a few made a lasting impression on her. Bailey, Mrs. Flowers, and Momma were the biggest role models throughout her childhood and also had the most positive influences on her.Bailey had a very unique relationship with Maya; they grew up together and shared everything. They were inseparable and experienced everything side by side. Whenever they got into trouble, they experienced it together and, if they didn't do it together, they were punished equally anyway. When Maya said "by the way," Momma not only whipped Maya for cursing, but she whipped Bailey and their friend Junior as well without a reason. She whipped all three of them so they all would know what would happen to them if they cursed. In Momma's eyes Bailey and Maya were to be treated equally because she wanted to raise both of them the same, thus when one was punished the other one was too. When Bailey experienced sex for the first time with Vivian, Maya was right there outside the tent. There was nothing that they didn't do together, and when they grew distant as they aged, Maya confessed that it was one of her most painful experiences. During a volatile time in her life, Bailey was the one she turned to. After Mr. Freeman raped her, she was traumatized and shut everyone out, except Bailey. He was the only one she felt comfortable talking to and that shows how close their relationship was. He felt her pain after the rape and even cried for her. Growing up, Bailey was the crutch that Maya could lean on in times when she questioned herself or life in general.Another character that had a major role in shaping Maya's personality was Mrs. Flowers. Mrs. Flowers made Maya Angelou feel proud to be black. In the first few pages of the book, Maya Angelou describes how Maya perceives herself to be very ugly, and she is ashamed to be black. She even wishes she were white, until she meets Mrs. Flowers. Mrs. Flowers is everything Maya aspires to be. "She was one of the few gentlewomen I have ever known, and has remained throughout my life the measure of what a human being can be"(Angelou 94). This very refined black woman gave her the wings she needed to rise above adversity in her life, she also gave her an example of what she could grow up to be if she put her mind to it. At a time when Maya hated who she was, Mrs. Flowers gave her inspiration to be a better...

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