Personal Perseverance in the Works of Maya Angelou
Internationally respected brilliant poet, historian, and author Maya Angelou says "in all my work I try to tell the human truth-what it is like to be human...what makes us stumble and fumbleand fall and somehow miraculously rise and go on from the darkness and into the light (Ebony 96). This theme is consistently exemplified throughout Angelou's greatly acclaimed autobiographical worksand poems such as I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in my Name, Still I Rise and Phenomenal Women. All of these books depict the true-life stories of Ms. Maya Angelou's tragedies, and there dreadful conditions she had encountered in her youth. But in all of Angelou's novels and poems, she escapes the night to go into the light, leaving all the hurt and shame to prosper in a new life she has created.
Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was the first autobiographical work she released and -her first best-seller. This autobiography left readers and critics in amazement at her story and were impressed by her writing techniques. "I know that not since the days of my childhood, when people in books were more real than the people one saw every day I found myself so moved"-(Baldwin,Critics). In Angelou's autobiography she recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, and, finally hard-won sovereignty. Sent at a young age of five to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned much from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit community there. The very essence of these lessons carried her through the hardship and struggles she endured later in her life, including a tragic rape while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formatve years in California where an unwanted pregnancy occurred which challenged and changed her life forever. Throughout Angelou's autobiography she consistently returns to the subject of her calamitous rape the racial hatred that left Angelou in a horrible emotional state, and, as well, left her feeling helpless and trapped , not understanding who she really was. Angelou's will to never stay a prisoner, to never stay quit and to fly away from that horrible life is also expressed in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, where she writes " the bird that stalks down the narrow cage can seldomthrough his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing (86)."
In 1937 Angelou stopped talking and became mute following her rape.Instead she became an observer of everything around her,including the racial divisions of her town. Angelou's "knapsack of misery" is illustrated in this book as well as the pain of her self discovery, and, most of al, the book depicts the love and joy of being and understanding of who she was and is: a strong, black, beautiful women.
Maya Angelou's poems, collected in volumes such as Still I Rise and Phenomenal Women have...