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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

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“I know why the caged bird sings” is one of the six autobiographies written by Maya Angelou. I think that she has written this book to show people that even though some people can have a disturbed childhood they can still achieve highly in life.

The story is mainly set in Stamps, which is a small town in the South of America, where Maya and her brother Bailey spend most of their life, however some parts of the book have been set in many different towns of America.

Within this book she reveals that Maya is not her birth name it is just a name that was given to her by her brother Bailey when he was a child. As Bailey and Maya were sent to Stamps with no explanation of what was going on, Maya came to the conclusion that her parents were dead, however when her parents send her and her brother a gift at Christmas, the truth is revealed to her. Where she feels unwanted and her self esteem lowers.

She also reveals that she was raped at the age of 8 by her mother’s boyfriend; this is a memory that never leaves her mind for instance whenever anybody says they love her she thinks of that moment and doesn’t know what to do.

This book also concentrates on the wide amount of racism that has gone on from the 1930s onwards; she talks about how when working for a rich white woman called Mrs Cullinan how Mrs Cullinan and her friends changed her name to Mary as they found that Marguerite was long. Maya showed her anger in this by breaking special antiques in the house, although she was still kept on for a while later however as mrs Cullinan was very sensitive she had a break down every time something was broken so she fired Maya.

Also how the black people in stamps were depending on a wrestling match between a black man and a white man to prove to the world that they were the stronger race, the excitement when he wins and the disappointment when he is losing, an example of this from the book is:(e.g. from book 2). This example shows that they depended on small things that they feel will help them gain respect. Some other examples from the book which I found shocking as I have always thought things would not happen the way they did, (e.g. from book 1) This was quite shocking as I had never thought that somebody living in the country would have achieved higher than those living in town. Because I thought that the town had more resources to keep peoples achievements higher. My final extract from the book is (e.g. from book 3). This disgusted me, the way a doctor could refuse to treat a patient just because of the colour of their skin as a doctor’s duty is to treat his patients not to be choosey!

The story is mainly focused around Maya and Bailey. Bailey shows to be someone who has his own mind and feels the need to prove to the world what he can be while still showing to be tough he can’t help getting very sensitive when things involve love! For instance when he sees a film in which the character reminds him of his mother he goes silent like in a trance. Maya is someone who keeps things to herself and tries her best not to give out her opinion out unless it is really necessary, most of the time she confides in her brother, for the reason that he is older than her and she looks up to him.

This autobiography has been very well written although in some parts of the book it has got quite confusing as the chapters are not consistent, for instance at the end of one chapter Maya may be talking about bailey however in the next chapter it goes onto something completely different. I would recommend it to everyone although mostly those with patience as it takes a long time to really get into the book. Out of 10 I would give it a rating of Maya 5 as it depends on the person who is reading and on personal preference.

I found that this book was very interesting as it let out facts that were unknown to me like racism could go as far as doctor refusing to treat his patient. The only part of this book that I disliked was the fact that it was switching from subject to subject throughout chapters which confused me and took long to get into for instance it takes about 2 chapters to really get into a book but then the subject of the chapter might change and then you have to get into it all again.

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