Reflection for “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

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Reflection for “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” Abstract This essay consists of three sections. The first section, a brief synopsis of the book “I know why caged bird sings” is presented. At the second part, three insights after reading the book are introduced. That is, metaphor of caged bird, power of literacy, and power of silence. At the last section, discipline-specific knowledge that relevant to the main character of book is stated. Synopsis of the Text This autobiography is Maya Angelou’s coming of age story, and follows Marguerite’s (called “My’ or “Maya” by her brother) life from the age of three to seventeen.

In this story, Angelou as the storyteller, tells the audience about her experiences as an African American girl living in the Southern United States and her struggles with racism and being raped at eight years old. The book reveals the process of how she overcomes these difficulties and transforms into a self-possessed, dignified young woman, capable of responding to prejudice. Her maturity is mainly gained by her grandmother, Momma, the power of literacy, and the love around her. The book starts with Marguerite at three years old.

At three, she was sent to Stamps, Arkansas, with her older brother Bailey to live with her grandmother and crippled uncle. Momma owns a merchandise store in the Stamps, and her store is a center of the African American community. Church, school, and the store are main places that little Maya and her brother live around. They are acquainted with African American life in Stamps which is hopeful in the morning before they go to cut the cotton, then turns dissatisfied and disappointed in the evening when they return from the cotton field. Read also Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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Stamps is a place where the black world and white world is clearly distinctive. Segregation makes them feel fear and hatred towards the white people in Stamps. Maya and her brother’s relatively peaceful lives are disturbed by their father’s appearance at Stamps. He takes them to St. Louis, Missouri, to live with their mother. Later, Maya was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. After her mother’s boyfriend’s death, Maya misconceives that her words lead him to his death, and then she refuses to speak.

This make her mother feel helplessness, therefore she decides to send her children to Stamps again. In Stamps, Maya meets Mrs. Bertha Flowers, who supplies her with books to encourage her love of reading and helps her to break through her shell. Later, Momma decides to send her grandchildren to their mother in San Francisco, California, to protect them from the dangers of racism in Stamps. Before Maya graduates, she becomes first African American female streetcar conductor in San Francisco.

During her final year of high school, she worries that she might be a lesbian and initiates sexual intercourse with a teenage boy. Later, she finds out that she is pregnant. Maya gives birth at the end of the book and begins her journey to adulthood by accepting her role as a mother. Insights You Obtained from Reading this Text Metaphor of Caged Bird In this text, the cage is used to imply many things. In young Maya’s eyes, being black is like living in a cage; she always imagines she could escape from her black skin.

In addition, her uncle’s handicapped body is his own cage. African American laborers in the Stamps cotton field are also being caged, because they are repeatedly doing the same labor work day after day, but their life does not seem to change. It is still very tough; they are like the caged bird cannot go anywhere. When the “powhitetrash” girls ridicule Momma, Maya looks through the window and watches the whole process of Momma being ridiculed by these girls. She was angry and wanted to yell at them but she could not, like the caged bird.

From reading this text, I could know the severer victimization from racism and the impacts of segregation on African American person’s life at that time. When Maya firstly comes across the white community in Stamps, she feels fear and perceives the white people there are un-human. Segregation produces misunderstanding between the two groups and escalates the conflict. Power of Literacy Maya is scared about the power of words after the death of Mr. Freeman, and refuses to speak. After she goes back to Stamps, Maya met Mrs. Flower, who encourages her reading of books.

Books become a refuge in her bewildering childhood. Maya finds characters of a book to make sense of her bewildering world. She even uses books as a way of coping with her rape. From the literacy, Maya gets comfort; literacy expands her thought and enables her to think independently without considering the unwritten rules of society at that time. Literacy also enhances Maya’s ability of thinking; it lets her have better understanding of herself, elaborates her thought, and makes her become a stronger person. In addition, literacy inspires her to think what true human dignity is.

It is very lucky for Maya to find a way to coping, as McPherson says, “if there is one stable element in Angelou’s youth it is a dependence upon books. ” (McPherson, 1990, pp. 215). I wonder what the most dignified characteristic of a human being is. The answer I found from this book is not the color of skin, socioeconomic status, or power; it is the self-determined ability to not allows others to decide the value of themselves, because everyone is equally dignified. Power of Silence Maya’s grandmother is a quite successful African American woman in the African American community in Stamps.

However, Momma and Momma’s family frequently suffered from racist attacks. On one occasion, Momma is taunted by “powhithetrash” girls. Maya sees Momma through the window coping with ignorance while being dignified. When these girls go to leave, Momma says to them “Bye, Miz”. After seeing how Momma fights with racism, Maya realizes racism can be fought without impudence, but instead with dignity. On the another occasion, Momma hides Uncle Willies in a vegetable bin to protect him from Ku Klux Klan raiders, because at that time, it was hard for a black man get protection from the police.

Momma chooses very realistic ways to protect her family and shows to little Maya what truth dignity is. Discipline-Specific Knowledge that You Think is Relevant to this Main Character If Maya is a client, what should a practitioner do with Maya? At first, the counselor needs to decide the time that Maya come to see him or her. Maya has come to see the counselor after she has been raped. As described in the book, after this incident, Maya refused to speak and closed herself to the outside world. Therefore, it can be assumed that this period is the first crisis in Maya’s life.

At the beginning of the counseling session, establishing a good relationship is very important. Sexual abuse involves betrayal of the child’s trust. The effect of such behavior makes a child who survives sexual abuse feel that it is difficult for them to trust others. Therefore, the counselor needs to make a tremendous effort to build a good rapport with Maya. We can utilize the things that Maya likes in the beginning of the session. As known from the text, Mrs. Bertha Flowers introduces books to Maya and encourage her love of reading books.

Therefore, we can talk about characters or authors of books, or whatever can bring her interest. After establishing a good relationship with Maya and making sure that she is ready to talk, the counselor will do assessment. Through talking with Maya, the counselor can comprehend Maya’s feelings, her coping behaviors, her perceptions about the incident, her developmental tasks, and her ecosystem. At the end of the assessment, two main issues might emerge. That is, trauma from sexual abuse and racism-related issues, including obsession with race and an identity issue.

It is said that counselors are ethically and legally mandated to report suspicions of child sexual abuse to authorities (Miller, Dove, & Miller, 2007). Therefore, documenting and reporting the suspected sexual abuse of Maya is the counselor’s first job. In the specific counseling session, the counselor needs to consider that treatment issues for child victims of rape typically includes many symptoms. Some of these symptoms include anger, trust issues, social withdrawal, self-blame, emotional dysregulation, dissociation, eating disorders, self-injury, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Budrionis & Jongsma, 2003).

Previous research suggests cognitive-behavioral approaches “reduce the impact” of (child) sexual abuse (Berliner & Elliot, 2002), and are more effective than supportive therapy in promoting improvements in children’s knowledge about body safety skills (Deblinger, Stauffer, & Steer, 2001). The counselor could apply cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to identify distorted thinking, like how Maya thought being raped and Mr. Freeman’s death were caused by her; modify beliefs; facilitate relating to others in different ways; and changes Maya’s behaviors associated with her trauma.

Next, the counselor needs to deal with the racism-related issues that Maya is experiencing. Cross model of psychological nigrescense (the process of becoming Black)(Cross, 1971, 1991, 1995;Hall & Cross, & Freedle, 1972) indicated that the evolution from the pre-encounter to the internalization stage reflects a movement form psychological dysfunction to psychological health. Evidence from the book supports an assumption that Maya is in her pre-encounter stage, where individuals consciously or unconsciously devalue their own Blackness and concurrently value White values and ways.

This can be seen when Maya often imagines that one day she will escapes from her black skin and become a blond and blue-eyed white girl. African Americans at pre-encounter stage evidence self-hate, low self-esteem, and poor mental health (Vandiver. 2001), whereas African Americans with the greatest internalization of racial identity report the highest self –esteem (Pierre & Mahalik, 2005). It seems that accepting who you are and being proud of yourself are fundamental for African American to maintain mental health. However, long journey needs to be gone through in order to make changes.

For changing the perception of herself and her perceptions towards African Americans, the counselor could introduce Maya with some movies or books of outstanding African Americans. Facing racism, Neal-Barnette and Crowther (2000) found that parents who focusing on human values and ignoring the role of race more likely generate children’s higher levels of social anxiety, particularly with African American peers. It means, for African Americans, it is crucial for parents actively prevent racism by admitting existence of racism, putting this issue on the table, and guiding their children to confront racism.

In Maya’s case, the counselor could refer to Sue and Sue (2007)’s recommendation. That is, the counselor can employ family and community support systems. Specifically, members of the family and other important individuals (brother, Momma, uncle, teacher, etc. ) in Maya’s life could be asked to meet together in Momma’s home, and then all the members could share information about their struggles and search for identity. Sue and Sue (2007) indicated that, use of these techniques, derived from African American experience, can lead to personal empowerment. Reference Angelou, M. (1971).

I know why the caged bird sings. New York, United States: Bantam Books. Berliner, L. , & Elliot, D. M. (2002). Sexual abuse of children. In J. E. B. Myers, L. Berliner, J. Briere, & Ct. T. Hendrix (Eds. ), The APSAC handbook on child maltreatment (2nd ed). (pp. 55-78). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Budrionis, R. , & Jongsma, A. E. (2003). The Sexual abuse Victim and Sexual Offender Treatment Planner. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. Cross, W. E. (1971). The Negro-to-Black conversion experience: Towards a psychology of Black liberation. Black World. 20, 13-27 Cross, W. E. (1991).

Shades of Black: Diversity in African American identity. Philadelphia: temple University Press. Cross, W. E. (1995). The psychology of Nigrescence: Revising the Cross model. In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. A. Suzuki, & C. M. Alexander(Eds. ), Handbook of multicultural counseling (PP. 93-122). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Deblinger, E. , Stauffer, L. B. , & Steer, R. A. (2001). Comparative efficacies of supportive and cognitive behavioral group therapies for young children who have been sexually abused and their nonoffending mothers. Child Maltreatment, 6 (4), 332-343. Hall, W. S. , Cross, W. E. & Freedle, R. (1972). Stages in the development of Black awareness: An exploratory investigation. In R. L. Jones (Ed. ), Black psychology (pp. 156-165). New Yourk: Harper & Row. Neal-Barnett, A. M. , & Crowther, J. H. (2000). To be female, middle class, anxious, and Black. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 129-136 McPherson, Dolly A. (1990). Order out of Chaos: The autobiographical Works of Maya Angelou. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Miller, K. L. , Dove, M. K. , & Miller, S. M. (2007, October). A counselor’s guide to child sexual abuse: Prevention, reporting and treatment strategies.

Paper based on a program presented at the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Conference, Columbus, OH. Pierre, M. R. , & Mahalik, J. R. (2005). Examining African self-consciousness and Black racial identity as predictors of Black men’s psychological well-being. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 11, 28-40. Sue, D. W. , & Sue, D. (2007). Counseling the Culturally Diverse : Theory and Practice. (5th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Vandiver, B. J. (2001). Psychological nigrescence revisited: introduction and overview. Journal of Multicultural counseling and Development, 29, 165-173.

Characterization in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Characterization is a physical description of a character, the way the character acts and the personality traits of the character. Bailey Johnson Jr. is the older brother of Marguerite Ann Johnson, the protagonist of the novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. In order for Maya to become independent, she needs to separate from Bailey. Their original relationship was holding her back. Bailey is described in the book as a bright, clever and light-spirited person. Maya needs to separate from Bailey because she relies on him to fight her battles.

He is also a “God-like” figure to her, which is an unhealthy obsession. Bailey also keeps Maya from believing in herself because Maya puts too much faith in him. Bailey influences Maya both positively and negatively throughout the novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Bailey influences Maya negatively because she depends on him to defend herself in her battles. Maya says in the book that, “Bailey was the greatest person in my life. ” Bailey is really the only person for Maya in her life and she looks up to him. He is basically the big brother of Maya’s dreams.

Bailey gives Maya that confidence and couragement such as getting back at Maya’s family members and friends who tease her about her imperfections. In the text, Maya describes one of his actions when she explains, “When our elders said unkind things about my features, Bailey would wink at me from across the room, and I knew that it was a matter of time before he would take revenge. ” This is one of the key examples of Maya relying on Bailey too much and giving him that faith instead of herself. Since Maya is relying on her older brother to defend her, she could never become a stronger person individually.

Maya is not capable of becoming more independent because she is ignorant of her own reliance on Bailey. Bailey is described in the book by Maya as a savior in her eyes, which is an unhealthy obsession for Maya. She believes that he is a “God-like” figure in her eyes. This is unhealthy for Maya because she puts too much faith into Bailey and not in herself. Maya describes Bailey as a savior when she explains that, “It made me want to live a Christian life just to show God I was grateful”, meaning that she wants to show God that she was thankful for a brother like Bailey.

Not only does Bailey influence Maya to be herself and not to worry about the thoughts of others, but he also influences her to be a religious person and walk the path of rightousness. This is one of the reasons why Maya wants to become a person like Bailey because he gets into trouble and misbehaves but yet he prays aloud in church. In the text, Angelou describes that, “Bailey could count on very few punishments for his consistently outragous misbehavior…. He could even pray aloud in church and was apt at stealing pickles. This quote also explains how Maya seeks to become more like Bailey. She wishes to be more like Bailey because he is a pure soul to her and she is desperate for that purity in her life. As Bailey and Maya both begin to grow up and mature in their own ways, Maya begins to become independent. One of the key challenges that Maya has faced that has made her independent was with Daddy Bailey. Daddy Bailey became very drunk one night while they were in Mexico and Maya had no choice but to drive, even though this was her first time driving, both of them back home.

This was the first time that Maya was actually in control without the help of Bailey. This is important towards Maya because she begins to slowly separate from Bailey. This is important towards Maya because she begins to realize that she doesn’t need Bailey as help to her. She begins to realize that she doesn’t need her big brother as a crutch anymore. In order for Maya to become independent, she needs to separate from Bailey. Their original relationship was holding her back.

By the end of the book, Maya still looks up to Bailey for advice on her pregnancy and Bailey still has that influence on Maya. As Bailey continues to grow up, he becomes wiser about his life and the choices he makes in them. He continues to be the big brother she has always loved. The evolution of Bailey is important because it shows the contrast of independence and maturity between himself and Maya. The change in characterization of Bailey throughout the book influences Maya because when Maya and Bailey grow apart, Maya becomes more independent.

What do you find particularly memorable in the language the poet uses in Caged Bird?

In the poem, Caged Bird, by Maya Angelou, the language has been employed effectively. She has defined her own structure, so as to find the sound, tempo and rhythm that are most suitable for this poem. The imagery, as well as the sounds, with which the poet uses to aid in the conveyance of her message and ideals, has been executed effectively. Furthermore, the use of contrast and comparison is central to the poem and is presented in a powerful, albeit straightforward manner.

Angelou has chosen to shape the structure of a poem to benefit her own ideals, and has achieved this remarkably. This is apparent as, even though each line has a different number of beats, the first line only having four, the second, having six and the fourth having five, the poem in its entirety is still lyrical and musical, and this lyrical style ties in with the poem's image, that of a caged bird, which "sings with a fearful trill..." By opting not to constrain her poem through the use of rigid meters, rhythm and general structure, each stanza, or rather, each line contributes to the poem's overall idea.

Whilst the structure is integral to the poem, so is the use of enjambment. In the first stanza, the structure is smooth and the words flow continuously. The poet has employed enjambment to help make the verse sound more free and boundless, in accordance with the image of a free bird, which "leaps on the back of the wind". The structure of the stanzas do not inhibit the meaning of them, but instead, helps to develop them, and it is this skill with which Angelou writes that makes the poem as a whole, effective and memorable.

Moreover, Angelou has employed imagery to her advantage in this poem. By using strong, connotative words, she has created a stronger image for the reader to imagine. Her use of effective and clear adjectives, as well as strong, effective metaphors, create a compelling picture which helps the reader to visualize the "dawn-bright lawn" and "sighing trees", thereby enabling the reader to clearly understand the image. The metaphors allow the reader to comprehend the poet's vision, and this is used again when she writes "the caged bird stands on the grave of dreams" as well as the lines, "dips his wing in the orange sun's rays". This use of strong adjectives and stronger metaphors help to clearly impress upon the reader the image which the poet has intended for us to envision.

Additionally, Angelou has utilized sound to its greatest effect in each of the poem's stanzas. This has been done to help set the overall tone of the verse and the entire poem. The reader can see this in the first stanza, where Angelou has used softer, longer vowel and consonant sounds to help add to the soft, carefree atmosphere of the stanza. This can be seen with words like "free", "leaps", and "floats". This is again seen in the fourth stanza, through the use of sounds that accentuate the softness of the ambience, which is apparent in the words, "breeze", "soft", and "sighing". In contrast to this, harder, shorter vowel and consonant sounds help to illustrate the bleak, wretched atmosphere of the cage in stanzas two and five. These sounds are used in "stalks", "clipped", and "scream". This use of sound throughout the poem helps the reader to understand the contrasting atmospheres and the overall tone of the poem.

Angelou has centred her poem on the contrast and comparison of the free bird and the caged bird. This contrast portrays the differences between the lives of these two birds. In the first stanza, the free bird "floats downstream" and "dips his wings in the orange sun's rays". This helps the reader to understand the carefree nature of the free bird. In contrast, in the second stanza, the caged bird "stalks down his narrow cage" and his "wings are clipped and his feet are tied". This contrast between the free bird and the caged bird is an effective method, which Angelou enlists, to convey her beliefs and to ensure that the reader can understand her intentions, as well as making the poem memorable and appealing.

Angelou has effectively written her poem, and in the process has made it memorable. Her choice not to follow a standard structure has proven fulfilling, as her structure has successfully expressed her message. In addition, the imagery with which she portrays her visualization has helped to impress an image upon the reader, which is helped by the use of different sounds through the poem that enables the reader to fully grasp the mood of the stanzas. This, in turn, helps the contrast and comparisons in the poem to be made more prominent, which ultimately allows Angelou to successfully convey her message, that of the luxuries of freedom, and, in comparison, the bonds of an oppressive society.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Critique

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the autobiography of Maya Angelou. I find it to be a rather interesting novel, since it is based on a true story. It also helps the reader understand how black people lived and felt during that period. In the novel, there is a wide range of themes, from family ties, to rape, and even literacy. In Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the three main themes are racism, prejudice and the roll of black women. The first and most visible theme in the novel is racism. During 1969, it is common to see a black person as inferior to a white person.

In the novel, Angelou shows the crudeness of white Southern attitudes toward African Americans. For example, in chapter 24, Marguerite goes to the dentist and Dr. Lincoln, a white man, refuses to treat her because she is black. He says: “I’d rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than in a nigger’s. ” (Angelou 189). Not even because of necessary medical attention does a white person leave aside the race and treat a black patient. Putting aside her strong feelings against racism, Angelou demonstrates how she develops the understanding of the rules for surviving in a racist society.

For example, in chapter 5, when the “powhitetrash” mock Momma, she stood humming while Marguerite is filed with rage, indignation and helplessness. Momma instead shows her how to maintain dignity and pride while dealing with racism. With her indifference towards the disrespectful white girls, Momma serves as a role model to all black people in her community by being the bigger person in a situation like this. The second theme in the novel is prejudice. Maya, her friends and her relatives will always be subject to prejudice simply because they are black.

For example, in chapter 23, during Marguerite’s graduation, Mr. Edward Donleavy gives a speech in which he mentions how blacks only achieve greatness through sports, not through academics: One of the first-line football tacklers at Arkansas Agricultural and Mechanical College had graduated from good old Lafayette Country Training School… One of the best basketball players at Fisk sank his first ball right here at Lafayette Country Training School. (Angelou 179) The fact that Mr. Donleavy assumes that students from this school are only good for sports, simply because of their race, shows how he speaks based on prejudice beliefs.

Prejudice in the novel is seen from both sides: in white people and black people. Since most white folks in Stamps mistreat blacks, black people assume all whites are the same, which means they are also prejudice against white people. For example, in chapter 2, Marguerite mentions her passion for literature, especially for Shakespeare, a white writer. She says how Bailey and she can’t mention Shakespeare to Momma: “she’d question us about the author and we’d have to tell her that Shakespeare was white, and it wouldn’t matter to her whether he was dead or not. (Angelou 14).

Shakespeare is a great writer, but Momma doesn’t know this since she is prejudice against white writers and doesn’t give herself the chance to find out about this writers greatness. The third theme presented in the novel is black women’s roll. Angelou presents women’s condition during this period and describes their lives in a male-dominated society. She also shows how it’s even harder being a black woman, having to overcome this storm of sexism and racism. Some women are able to do so and become great.

For example, Momma is a successful black woman, who owns a store and is considered to be wealthy. She is able to overcome the condition she is submitted to by society and become the most successful black woman in Stamps. Marguerite also serves as an example for black women’s roll during 1969. She lives in a hostile world defined by beauty in terms of whiteness: Wouldn’t they be surprised when one day I woke out of my black ugly dream, and my real hair, which was long and blond, would take the place of this kinky mass that Momma wouldn’t let me straighten?

My light-blue eyes were going to hypnotize them… (Angelou 2) Marguerite believes the only way to be a beautiful and successful woman is by being white. With the help of strong female role models in her family and community: Momma, Vivian, Grandmother Baxter, and Bertha Flowers, she is able to overcome her racist and sexist beliefs, succeed in her life and become the great woman she is known to be today.

Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a true story about the author’s hard life during the 1960’s, a time in which black people are seen as inferior in many different aspects by society. The novel shows how they fight against racism, sexism and prejudice, and how white people also experience prejudice from black people. These themes are presented in the most realistic and crude way possible. In the end, Maya transforms from a victim of prejudice and racism with an inferiority complex to a self-confident young woman who is able to react to racism with dignity and pride.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Reaction Paper

My Reaction to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou once proclaimed in an interview, “All my work is meant to say, ‘You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated’” (Anthology). This statement holds especially true in her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her inspirational coming of age story is filled with many defeats that shaped her into the independent and compassionate woman she became. After reading this book, I found there to be many meaningful areas that opened up my eyes and made me think again about my own personal and professional development.

In addition, it allowed me to inquire more questions and wanted me to learn more about Maya Angelou’s path to greatness. There were many significant parts in Angelou’s autobiography that dealt with the issues of racism, sexism, violence, and loneliness. In my opinion, the parts that dealt with these various issues were most meaningful because they are controversial issues that Angelou was courageous enough to write about. From the start of the book, Angelou expresses her racist views when she is in church and fantasizes that one day she will wake up out of her “black ugly dream. This part of the book foreshadows the rest of the racist events that will occur throughout the novel. For instance, the time when Angelou goes to the dentist with her Momma, the dentist says he would rather stick his hand in the mouth of a dog than in her mouth. Later in the book, Angelou discusses how she is raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She does not speak for five years because of this sexual assault. Later on, when her silence is broken, Angelou is involved with a violent attack. This time it is her father’s girlfriend who stabs her with scissors out of pure jealousy.

Throughout the book Angelou feels alone because she has insecurities about the way that she looks and the color of her skin. Her loneliness is drawn out more after she is raped because she puts the blame on herself. All these monumental parts of the book are most meaningful because it shows Angelou’s endurance and how her life is not frayed by the unfortunate events that took place in her life. Throughout her childhood, Angelou experienced things that she should have never had to experience. It is admirable to think that with so many negatives in ones life Angelou was able to become such a successful person.

Reading about Angelou’s experiences led me to think about my development as a person. Maya Angelou turned out to be successful even through her harsh childhood. I then question myself about what is stopping myself from developing in such way with a normal childhood. Upon finishing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I took away many reasons why this book will help my personal and professional development. I never experienced a traumatic childhood quite the way Angelou did. Therefore, I should be more thankful for the loving family I have, the non-prejudice community I live in, my safety, and my college education.

If Angelou was as victorious as she was all while enduring major hardships, then there is no excuse for me not to be. This book has also taught me, even though I may not see it, that people do go through hardships. For example, when Angelou took a vow of silence after her rape, no one understood why she was doing it. There is always a reason for why a person acts in the way that they do. As a professional, I will do my best not to judge anyone on the outside because I have no idea what goes on in their personal life. As a future occupational therapist, I will try to have my clients open up to me.

Therefore, I can find out what is going on in their personal life and not judge them, but help them instead. I may have an impact on a clients life just by giving them an equal opportunity. There are many questions I raised and areas that I would like to learn more about upon finishing the autobiography of Maya Angelou. The novel ends in a positive picture of Maya with her newborn son. I question how much did Angelou’s life change with her newborn son and how she was able to accomplish so many things while taking care of her child?

She, after all, was involved with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and published many famous works of literature. Was it hard for her as an African American woman to achieve so much while facing racism and sexism? Lastly, how does her story end? Does Angelou end up with a loving husband whom she could’ve celebrated all her achievements with? My response to this novel is a positive one. The most meaningful part of this book is the way that Angelou was able to find herself while enduring major conflicts such as racism, sexism, violence, and loneliness. In her wn words she did encounter many defeats, but that did not stop her from being the best that she could be. For that reason Maya Angelou is an inspiration and a role model. From reading this book I know now that I am capable of developing myself more personally and professionally. I have not encountered many defeats in my life but if I were I know that I can brave the storm and not be defeated, just like Angelou was not. References Angelou, M. (1997). I know why the caged bird sings. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Douglass, F. (2004). The norton anthology of african american literature. (2 ed. ). New York New York: W. W. Norton and company.

I know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The poem I chose to analyze was "I know why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. I chose this poem because even at first read, I noticed that there was a deeper meaning behind this poem and I instantly connected to it. The poem compares the life of a free bird and how different it is from the life of a caged bird.

The free bird has the ability to be free and do what it pleases, while the caged bird is limited as to what it can and can't do. As I read this poem, I was confused as to why Angelou decided to write about birds, but by the end of the poem, I understood who the birds were supposed to be representing.

After reading the poem I made the assumption that there were two birds, a free bird and a caged bird. The caged bird had "clipped wings and his feet were tied" (Angelou), so he only had the ability to sing, whereas, the free bird had the opportunity to fly anywhere he wanted, and eat whatever he pleased.

In the first stanza, lines 1-3, Angelou describes the adventures of the free bird when she says, "A free bird leaps on the back of the wind... and dips his wing in the orange suns rays." These lines help me, the reader, picture a bird flying across a horizon, and just how free the bird is. Reading further ahead, Angelou says, "And dares to claim the sky as his own." This line helps me further understand the extent of the freedom the free bird has.

The second stanza Angelou describes the life of the caged bird, and how "his wings are clipped and his feet are tied." The imagery in these lines helps me picture just how trapped the caged bird is. The caged bird has been stripped of its natural ability to fly and walk. Because of these restrictions, the only thing left for the caged bird to do is sing. Similar to the second stanza, in the third stanza, Angelou describes the singing of the caged bird, saying it is "fearful trill." She also says, "...his tune is heard on a distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Through these lines one can infer that the caged bird is singing is very loud, and through this trill one can hear the fear as well as the desire to be free. As the poem goes on, Angelou again emphasizes her point on how trapped the caged bird is. Line 19 says, "A caged bird stands on the grave of dreams" (Angelou).

To me this line means that the caged bird is so confined to the caged life, that he has given up on all his dreams and buried them in a grave because he knows he will probably never get the chance to achieve them.. However, I was confused as to why the caged bird continued to sing about being free if he had already given up on his dreams.

Did the caged bird's struggles describe Angelou struggles? Something that seemed interesting to me in the poem was how the caged bird sang "a fearful trill of things unknown" (Angelou). The caged bird has never been free, and has never experienced freedom, but still desires it. This led me to believe that even though the caged bird doesn't know exactly what it feels like to be free, he knows that anything will be better than the condition he is in now.

After reading the poem for a second time, I wondered why Angelou decided to write about this topic, and if the birds represented something deeper. With further research I found out that Maya Angelou wrote this poem in 1983. During this time, segregation and racial differences between blacks and whites were still prevalent in America.

Using this information, I concluded that the "free bird" used in the poem refers to the dominant white race, while the "caged bird" represents the oppressed black race. I can also infer, that since Angelou is a black women, she is referring to herself as the caged bird described in the poem. At this particular time period, whites were given more freedom and more rights compared to the blacks.

The black people were segregated against and weren't given the same opportunities the whites were given. Due to this, one can infer that Angelou, being black and a woman, wasn't given the same opportunities, and therefore felt trapped like the caged bird. She felt as if the only thing she had the ability to do was use her voice and speak out about what was happening to her and how it made her feel. This is also why Angelou decided to write this poem.

It was a way for her to use her voice to get her message out and express how she feels trapped in a society that is dominated by white males. The life of the privileged white male is representing the life of the free bird. The free bird can "claim the sky" (Angelou) and eats "fat worms" (Angelou) while the caged bird is not only enslaved in the "narrow cage" (Angelou), but has also been stripped of the ability to fly. Similarly, the black people during this time period, have been stripped of their fundamental rights as human beings, and are being oppressed by the whites. Singing, or writing, is the only way to validate their existence.

The only right that these blacks posses is the right to use their voice and express themselves. In addition to being apart of the black minority, Angelou was a women. Women were given even fewer rights as compared to men, and often were looked down upon all over there world. Her voice was used as a way to demand attention to show the world the challenges she has to face as a black women.

The poem " I know why the Caged Bird sings" is symbolic of the hardships Maya Angelou had to face during the time period when the black community was discriminated against. Angelou knows why the caged bird sings because she is the caged bird. She didn't possess the same freedom as the white people, and at the same time, the caged bird didn't possess the same rights as the free bird. Singing about freedom was the only way the caged bird could express its feelings, and writing was the only way Angelou could express her opinions.

This poem is very meaningful to me because like Angelou I too often feel like the caged bird. I feel trapped in a society where I am a part of a minority group. Sometimes I feel as if my beliefs and opinions are overlooked and my feelings are not taken into account equally. This poem shows me how using your voice in order to express your thoughts can be a very effective way of commuting an idea, just as Angelou has done.

Related Questions

on Reflection for “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

What Is The Poem Caged Bird Mainly About?
The poem Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou is mainly about the struggle for freedom and equality faced by African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. It uses the metaphor of a caged bird to represent the oppression and limited opportunities faced by people of color."
Why The Cage Bird Sings?
I'm sorry, I cannot generate an answer without a specific question. Why The Cage Bird Sings?" is not a complete question. Please provide more context or a specific question for me to answer."

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Reflection for “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. (2016, Dec 31). Retrieved from

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