Secondary School Level

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou's autobiography 'I know why the caged bird sings', won her a lot of acclaim. Angelou was hailed as a new kind of memoirist as she was the first African American woman who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. Angelou's autobiography set a precedent for the genre of autobiographies as a whole.

Before “I know why the caged bird sings” black women writers had been marginalized to the extent that they were unable to present themselves as the central characters of their own books. With this autobiography, Angelou became not just famous as a writer but as a spokeswoman for the African American Movement and women as well.

In this poem, Angelou effectively contrasts the characteristics of a caged bird and a free bird. The free bird has the courage to claim the sky because his faith has not been broken and his pride has not been bruised nor his dreams shattered. The caged bird, on the other hand sings because that's all it can do, its wings are clipped and it can only dream of freedom, never taste it. Maya Angelou is the caged bird in her autobiography having had to overcome white prejudice, black powerlessness and female subjugation to earn her place in the Sun.


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