I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou: Grief, Silence, And Emptiness In The Author's Life
Sadness helps you appreciate happiness, noise reveals the beauty of silence and an empty void shows you the most important things in life. Maya Angelou experiences grief, silence, and emptiness as she retells situations which transformed and shaped her into the person she is now. In the novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, she promulgates situations which revealed unpleasant and exceptional portions of her life as she travels through her autobiography. She describes evolutionary situations to give her the ability to recapture her life story.
Maya’s transformation and growth was affected by sexual molestation and abuse which altered the respect she held towards herself and the birth of her son where part one of her evolution to beauty and self-respect ended. In the 1930/40s all black men were considered rapists and offenders, Maya Angelou discovered a way to express her journey of accusing a black man of rape while still keeping her love for her black community. Maya blamed herself for her rapists, Mr. Freeman’s death, which lead her into silence for many years. This shows that society is teaching women how to defend themselves against rapists and molesters instead of teaching men not to rape. We are blaming the women for “allowing” themselves to get raped which in the process we are defending the offender. According to Maya Angelou, “The black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate, and black lack of power”. Maya uses this quote to show that most black women in her autobiography are survivors because the novel reveals heroism and strength as they face powerlessness and racism. It shows Maya’s lack of a childhood since she had to mature faster than her peers as the passage foreshadows her journey of self-respect, sexuality, and teen pregnancy.
Today’s generation is still dealing with the fundamental human error of racism, we must break down the walls that are separating us from seeing each other as equals. The effects of racism affected the self-respect Maya Angelou held towards herself because at the age of five Maya felt as if she was hanging on by a thread. As stated by Maya Angelou, “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”. As Maya looks back through her childhood experiences she realizes that she wasn’t only a victim of a racist society but also a victim of displacement in her friends and family. Maya felt this way because she was abandoned by her parents at a young age and sent to live with her grandparents, which left her feeling alone for most of her childhood. She also believed her appearances differed from her peers which altered her self-identity.
As Maya matured into adulthood, she ventured into her sexuality, her evolution to beauty reached its climax as she became pregnant with her first child. The ability to introduce a child into this world is the miracle of life, a child will introduce traits you never knew you possessed and they will give your life a new meaning. You will no longer put yourself first because when you become a mother, a role model, your child will become number one in your heart. The novel provides examples of Maya’s fear of venturing into motherhood, “See you don’t have to think about doing the right thing. If you’re about the right thing, then you do it without thinking”.
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