Summary of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Summary

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In the book ‘ I know why the caged bird sings’ by Maya Angelou, she discuss her life story through her point of view. In the first chapter we are introduced to Bailey who is her older brother. In their early life their parents got a divorce and sent them away to Stamps, Arkansas to be taken of by Mrs. Henderson. On their way there their porter abandoned them in Arizona so they made their way to Stamps by themselves. Soon after their arrival and meeting of Mrs. Henderson they stop calling her Mrs. Henderson and call her Momma.

Momma owns the only black store in Stamps and is a valued member in the black community. In the second chapter we are introduced to Uncle Willie who is Momma’s crippled son. Maya sympathies with uncle Willie because when she arrives home after school she sees uncle Willie talking to two strangers while trying to hid his disability. Also during chapter Maya discovers William Shakespeare, she falls in love with him and his writings this starts her intense love with books. One day Mr. Steward, a former sheriff of the town warned the family to watch out because a mob is out due to the fact that a black man ‘messed with’ a white women.

They hid Mr. Willie in the potato and onion bin to insure his safety just in case the mob decided to stop in their yard. In chapter 4 we see how important Bailey is to Maya. We see this because he stood up for her when their elders would say unkind things about Maya. When Momma was working the store one three ‘powhitetrash’ girls came and started taunting her. They treated Momma with no respect but since Momma is strong she didn’t give them the reaction they wanted. Instead she hummed a song and just before they were about to leave Momma respectfully said goodbye making sure she added Miz to the start of their names.

In chapter 7 Momma gives refuge to a man who was being hunted down for assaulting white womenhood. However the man was apprehended and when asked where he ran to he said Mrs. Hendersons store. Momma was called down to the jury and was called ‘ Mrs. Henderson’ by a white Judge. Maya said this proves the majesty and worth of Mrs. Henderson. In chapter 9 Maya and Bailey receive gifts from their parents, mother gave Maya a tea set and her father gave a picture. This made Maya think of the reasons why their parents left them which made them sad. Momma noticed this and sternly told the children that they should be grateful for all that they have.

One day Maya’s father spontaneously visits her and the rest of her family. Bailey and Big Bailey get along well while Maya has a hard time believing that he is her father. After some time Big Bailey takes Maya and Bailey to St. Louis so that they can live with their mother. Maya feels skeptical about the whole situation because her father is a stranger and he dropped her off to live with another stranger. During her time in St. Louis she meet her mom boyfriends Mr. Freeman. The change in location doesn’t effect Maya but more surprises her because she doesn’t feel accepted anywhere.

In chapter 11 Maya is having constant nightmares and sleeps with her mother and Mr. Freeman. This happens for a few nights until one day Mr. Freeman molests Maya, he threatens that if she tells anyone he will kill Bailey. For awhile Mr. Freeman ignores Maya along with this she inst as connected with Bailey so she spends most of her time in the public library reading.

One day Mayas mother is out and Mr. Freeman rapes Maya. She feels pain in her legs and hides her bloodied underwear in the mattress. When mother gets home she thinks Maya is coming down with the measles so when they change the sheets the underwear falls out. Vivian says that Mr. Freeman has moved out and wont be coming back.


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Summary of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Summary. (2021, Apr 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/summary-of-i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings-by-maya-angelou/

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