“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”
In Maya Angelou's autobiographical novel, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", tenderhearted Marguerite Johnson discovers all of the splendors and agonies of growing up in a prejudiced, early twentieth century America. Rotating between the slow country life of Stamps, Arkansas and the fast-pace societies in St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California taught Maya several random aspects of life while showing her segregated America from coast to coast. When Maya was three years old, her mother sent her and Bailey from California to Stamps to stay in the care of their grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson. Soon thought of as their real mother, "Momma" raised her grandchildren with the strict Southern principles such as, "wash your feet before you go to bed; always pray to the savior and you shall be forgiven; chores and school come before play; and help those in need and you shall be helped yourself." Bearing those basic principles, Maya and Bailey grew older and wiser in Stamps.
However, one day their father rode extravagantly into Stamps and called for his children to return home with him to St. Louis. Bailey, eager to leave the simple family life in Arkansas, agreed immediately, but
Freeman to death to disburden the shame from the family. Freeman, sexually abused her twice, and when she testified in court against him, the "important connections" her mother had to the gangsters in St. In the evenings after her school work was finished, and she never had any chores to do like in Stamps, her mother would take her out dancing and teach her to jitterbug in smoke and whiskey filled dance clubs. Now questioning her sexuality after reading a book about lesbians and enjoying watching a female friend take off her shirt, she asked a fellow classmate if he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her to ensure herself that she did in fact enjoy men. Living with her maternal mother gave Maya a glimpse at the future world, and helped her to control her "tender heart" and emotions, however Maya seemed always happiest in Stamps with her grandmother. Maya's protective and unadorned world in Stamps helped her hold sacred and moral family values that were then mostly contrasted when she was whisked away to Missouri and California. " "By the way" was a common expression in St. After they made love, and still uncertain of her sexual preference, she found herself pregnant three weeks later at the age of sixteen. During the Great Depression, her well-off Momma lent out money to both struggling Negro and white folks even though, "the whites in their town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn't buy vanilla ice cream. "tender-hearted" Maya was frightened by the idea of big cities and strange people.