I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography of the life of Maya Angelou. The book begins with the divorce of her parents, and Maya and her brother Bailey moving from St. Louis to Stamps, Arkansas, where their grandmother lives. Maya deals with sudden, unexpected separation from stability and security, sexual abuse, rape, racism, poverty, death, abandonment, solitude, and uncertainty all before the age of sixteen. After leaving the safety and comfort of life with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, Maya and her older brother Bailey travel to St. Louis to live with their mother Vivian. After almost a year of not adjusting to city life, Maya becomes the victim of a savage rape, by her motherís boyfriend. It leaves her so traumatized that she stops speaking and slowly recovers after returning to Stamps to the love and care of Momma. After proudly graduating from junior high school and entering their teenage years, Maya and Bailey again go to live with their mother. She moves to San Francisco, where Maya feels more alone and insecure than ever. She has to come to terms with the feelings and issues of being a teenager, getting a job, finishing school, watching her brother pull away to find freedom, and an unexpected pregnancy. Eventually she overcomes all the cards stacked against her to give birth to a healthy son.

Throughout I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the author lives in several towns and cities, all of which effect her differently. The fast-paced, noisy life Maya finds in St. Louis is totally foreign to her, and seems worlds away from the quiet, secure life she had in Stamps with Momma. Maya thrives and seems happiest and most comfortable in Stamps, with Momma, Bailey, and Uncle Willie. From the time that she was three until she was seven. The rural, poor southern town of Stamps was the only home that Maya knew.

Maya was inspired to write her autobiography after meeting novelist James Baldwin, editor Robert Loomis, and cartoonist Jules Feiffer. She booked a downtown hotel room and wrote from six till noon on weekdays. She did this for six months, and by 1970 she had a manuscript for publication.

After reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I would like to say that it is a very interesting look into a turbulent life of a young troubled girl. I think that it was entertaining, but at the same time there were some serious issues dealt with by the author. It helped me realize how hard life can be for some people. I would strongly recommend this book to any mature reader.

The author easily fulfills the goal of the novel. I think that her goal was to successfully give a feeling of what her life was like as she grew up. She deals with sexual abuse, rape, racism, poverty, death, abandonment, solitude and uncertainty, all before she was sixteen. The detailed accounts of the events in her life made me feel as if I was growing up along side of her. I could see her pain and anguish throughout her childhood years. I was affected most when she gave her feelings after she was raped. She wrote of the guilt and her fears of how the rape was her fault. Maya says, "I had sold myself to the Devil and there could be no escape. The only thing I could do was to stop talking to people other than Bailey...When I refused to be the child they knew and accepted me to be, I was called impudent and my muteness sullenness...The bareness of Stamps was exactly what I wanted, without will or consciousness. After St. Louis, with its noise and activity, its trucks and buses, and loud family gatherings, I welcomed the obscure lanes and lonely bungalows set back deep in dirt yards." This account of Mayaís is an example of how she fulfills her goal of making the reader feel as if they were with her as she grew up.

Angelouís writing style is descriptive and colorful; she uses many literary devices to emphasize scenes and conversations that show the development of her character. For example: Characterization "...when she was called upon to sing, she seemed to