Essay about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Submitted By vbpando
Words: 1166
Pages: 5

• Maya Angelou was born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her given name is Marguerite Annie Johnson; however, her brother gave her the name Maya. Maya Angelou is the author of best-selling novels such as: “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “Gather Together in My Name,” and “Heart of a Woman.” In theater she has produced, directed, and stared in “Cabaret for Freedom.” She has been active in film and television, writing screenplays and musical scores. In 1975, Maya Angelou received the “Ladies’ Home Journal” Woman of the Year Award in Communications. She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, and was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the American Revolution Bicentennial Advisory Council. In 1993, for President Clinton’s inauguration she read her poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning.” Maya Angelou has received more than thirty honorary degrees.
• -Marguerite Johnson is the main character of the book, along with her brother Bailey Johnson, Jr. The story is an autobiography of their early childhood into their teenage years. It’s Marguerite’s story of all the changes and challenges she faces growing up, being black, and trying to find where she fits in.
-Bailey Johnson, Jr. is Marguerite’s older brother. He and Marguerite are really close and feel that they only have each other. In the story, we see the changes that Bailey too is going through to find his place in the world.
-Annie “Momma” Henderson is Marguerite and Bailey’s grandmother who raises them until they are sent to live with their mother. She owns the Wm. Johnson General Merchandise Store; they just call it the Store, where most of the setting takes place in the book.
-Father Bailey, Bailey Johnson Sr., is Marguerite and Bailey, Jr. father. He is Annie Henderson’s son. He is in and out of Marguerite and Bailey’s lives because he lives in California. He speaks perfect English and is extremely good looking; however, neither Marguerite nor Bailey ever gets real close to him.
-Vivian Baxter, Mother Dear, is Marguerite and Bailey Jr. mother. She is beautiful, fun, and kind. She lives in California, as well. The kids go and live with her and then she ships them back to Momma Henderson and then when they are teenagers they go back to live with her. Marguerite and Bailey are enchanted by her and in the end they seem to form a deep and lasting bond with their mother.
• The book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” is an autobiography of Marguerite Johnson’s childhood into her teenage years. She and her brother Bailey are sent to live with their grandmother, Momma Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas. Their grandmother, who is extremely religious and strict, expects them to work in the Store she owns and runs, along with her son Willie. She loves her grandchildren and is a good lady. It was during this time that they realized how badly the white folks treated the black folks, and it was hard for Marguerite and Bailey to understand why. One day their father arrives and decides to take Marguerite and Bailey to St. Louis to stay with their mother, Vivian Baxter. During their time in St. Louis Marguerite is raped by one of her mother friend, Mr. Freeman. Marguerite believes that it is her fault and stops talking for a long time after this. After this, Bailey and Marguerite are sent back to Stamps to live with Momma Henderson, again. It is there that Marguerite meets Mrs. Flowers and she teaches her that speech and writing are beautiful and necessary. Marguerite also meets her first real best friend, Louise Kendricks. Bailey falls in love and is exposed to his first sexual encounter. Life continues on for Marguerite and Bailey learning good and bad lessons of life. Then, on day Momma Henderson decides it is time for Bailey and Marguerite to go live with their Mother Dear. Momma Henderson takes Marguerite to California and a month later Bailey joins them.