Essay about Maya Angelou

890 Words Nov 15th, 2008 4 Pages
Maya Angelou’s tumultuous childhood in the South and the struggles that come with being black are the basis for her autobiographies such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Through her rich, insightful literature she is able to record the black experience and ultimately the black struggle. She “[is] always talking about the human condition – about what we can endure, dream fail at and still survive.”(Matzu 23) Angelou’s early life was full of hardships; making her strong and ready to fight for her rights. As a young child she, along with her brother Bailey and their parents, moved from her birth place St. Louis to Long Beach. After her parents struggles there, she and Bailey were shipped off to Stamps, Arkansas; the starting point for …show more content…
She also uses symbols and vivid descriptions of the settings to enhance the inner struggles of her characters. Her autobiographical style is written from an “as remembered state” (Neubauer 38). After she was about half way finished with Caged Bird she knew she loved the autobiographical form and continued to create more to see what else she could do with it (Neubauer 38). Maya Angelou’s use of the universal message illustrates her and Bailey’s displacement in society and loss of self worth. Maya and Bailey are sent away by their mother to live with their grandmother in Stamps (Angelou). This rejection from their mother and the loss of a home translated into a loss of self worth (Smith 10). She becomes displaced in society when Mrs. Cullinan would not stop calling her Mary. After Maya told her that her name was not Mary she still called her Mary. As an act of defiance against Mrs. Cullinan’s clear disrespect for Maya’s humanity she broke Mrs. Cullinan’s favorite dish (Angelou). This act displaced her from society even more so than before (Smith 10-11) Sidonie Anne Smith commented on this displacement and loss of self worth by saying, “The quest for a home therefore is the quest for acceptance, for love, and for the resultant feeling of self worth.” Angelou’s use of vivid setting descriptions through the episodes that occur in Stamps and

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