Book Critique: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Length: 5 Pages 1349 Words

“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou is a great piece of literature about the social, cultural, and racial struggles of African Americans during her childhood. It emphasizes the life of blacks vs. whites in Stamps Arkansas during the Depression. Angelou’s name was Marguerite, her brother’s name was Bailey Jr., and her grandmother’s name was Annie Henderson (Momma). I really like this book because it gives truthful insights on how blacks had to struggle to make a living not only for themselves, but for their children and in some cases, their grandchildren. I consider her viewpoint to be very educational, persuasive, and touching. Although I strongly admire Angelou’s opinions and details on her life story, I wouldn’t agree with some of her thoughts and situations and how she handled them. In the preface it talks about Angelou waking up out of a black ugly dream. She says, “My real hair, which was long and blond, would take the place of the kinky mass that Momma wouldn’t let me straighten. My light-blue eyes were going to hypnotize them, after all the things they said about ‘my daddy must have been a Chinaman’ because my eyes were so small and squinty…I had never picked up a Southern acce Continue...


She wanted to do something about it because as everyone who sees someone they care about get ridiculed, she wanted to get revenge and take up for her grandmother and add strength where there was weakness. An example of a detour in this structure is what we see today. It may not be to the degree of the Southerners at that moment but I do have a little insight on how the situation was. Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number-two pencil. This is a prime example of growing up around whites and respecting whites had an effect on her admiring whites and what they did, but she was raised and taught by blacks which had an effect on who she would be involved with and who the father of her child would be. She gives examples to help relate how times were when she was three to her teenage years in the South. These sexual feelings would determine the possibility of acting on them and getting pregnant or an STD. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings has opened my eyes towards segregation and slavery. Overall, I think Angelou is a powerful writer with many insights that can help in the social world. I understand if she didn't have a role model to look up to, but she had a strong, black, successful woman to look up to. She had someone to examine the actions and qualities of. When the "powhitetrash who lived on Annie's land didn't respect her authority and called her by her first name, mocked her, and put their feet in her face, She just stood there and hummed because, I assume, she didn't want to disrespect them because they were white and she would get in a lot of trouble for that, she didn't want to disrespect them as human beings, and she didn't want to stoop to their level considering they were children and they didn't know any better. Black men especially those that are wealthier, are involved with white women. That to me symbolizes the cultural aspect of life. She had to decide whether she would keep or abort this child.