Why it’s titled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings depicts the harsh childhood that the author, Maya Angelou, was subject to. The title of the book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, relates to a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar titled Sympathy. The title simply means that Maya can relate to a caged bird singing. In essence, she has been caged because she lives in an era that is plagued by racism and because she is of the so-called, ‘weaker’ sex.
She relates to the reason the bird sings in the conclusion of the book by accepting her race and womanhood for what it is, and she, like the caged bird, will continue to sing despite the fact that she is captive; simply because she has hope that one day she will be ‘released’ from a world of racism. Throughout the book she finds herself in unfortunate situations sometimes caused by her race. However, she always looks towards the positive side, even when she is subject to blatant abuse. She finds joy reading, like the caged bird does with singing, because it brings her hope.
At the beginning of the book, we can see how far Maya's reality has been distorted by racism. Maya believes that by wearing a dress that she would look 'like one of the sweet little white girls. But the dress is later described as 'a white woman's once-was-purple throwaway.' Maya would fantasize that her 'real hair, which was long and blond, would take the place of the kinky mass that Momma wouldn't let her straighten' and her 'light blues eyes' would replace the eyes that were 'small and squinty.' Maya says her appearance is merely a 'black ugly dream that she will wake out of’. She believed so much in the superiority of whites that she 'knew God was white too.' She grew up in a time in which race and appearance were very important and they even made a difference in the way people were treated.
Every morning, Maya sees the cotton pickers come in happy and boastful, but after th...