Young mother though she is, seventeen-year-old parent though she is, she must survive and triumph over the various discriminations, mostly racial, that she endures. In a book that has a beginning, middle, and end—a structure that Angelou claims exists in all of her autobiographies—the end is an especially poignant reminder of survival.
Learning a lesson from a drug addict, Angelou proclaims: I had given a promise and found my innocence. Seeking survival, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, in all six volumes of autobiography, Angelou as narrator and playwright tells her stories and sets the stage for her dramatic productions.
Like her autobiographical narratives and dramas, the poems also tell stories and present scenes from human dramas. Taken together, the ten volumes of prose and poetry are narrative dramas, portraits of a woman and her culture, songs of survival at all costs.
She is no longer a singing caged bird, but one who swoops and dives in her efforts toward opening the cages for the rest of humanity. In this self-portrait, Maya Angelou narrates her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, and her adolescent years in California.
Maya Angelou as a child is a displaced person, separated from her mother and father at the age of three and moved around almost as frequently as a chess piece. Her earliest memories are of Stamps, where she and her brother Bailey are raised by their grandmother, a woman of remarkable strength and limitless love for her grandchildren.
This grandmother, known as Momma, provides security for Maya and Bailey and also offers a role model for the young girl, who is beginning to understand the role of victim to which black children—and especially black girls—are subjected.
Momma owns the general store in Stamps and is respected as a businesswoman, a citizen of the community, and an honest and straightforward person. She represents the qualities that will eventually define her granddaughter, and she demonstrates those qualities on a daily basis, most especially when dealing with members of the white community.
In a significant incident, she reveals the ability to survive that her granddaughter will eventually develop herself. Throughout this series of insults, Momma does not react to the girls and, instead, stands on the porch, smiling and humming a hymn. She was superior, and she had survived. She had also taught her granddaughter a lesson for all time. Most lessons, however, need to be learned and relearned, and so Angelou faces that uphill battle when, at the age of eight, she is displaced again, this time to be returned to her mother in St.
Whereas Stamps represents security and orderliness, St. Louis symbolizes its opposites. Confused and terrified by this act and the subsequent murder of Freeman—a murder that the child mistakenly thinks she has caused—Angelou becomes a voluntary mute and lives in a world of silence for nearly five years.
She is healed by Bertha Flowers, a woman in Stamps, to which Maya returns. Flowers extends friendship to the mute Maya, a friendship that beckons the young girl to leave her self-imposed silence and embrace a new world of words, poems, songs, and a journal that chronicles this new stage in her life.
Moving to Oakland and then San Francisco in , at the age of thirteen, Maya rejoins her mother and deals with dislocation and displacement still again.
At this point in her life, however, she is maturing and learning that the role of victim, while still a role to which she is assigned, is also a role played by others—blacks and whites. She learns that the human challenge is to deal with, protest against, and rise above the trap of being victimized and exploited. In the final scene of the novel, Angelou is not merely a young woman coming to this realization for herself; she is a young mother who has just borne a son and who is therefore struggling to see how she can be responsible not only for herself but also for another.
The book ends with this sense of mutual responsibility and mutual survival: Mother and child know why the caged bird sings, and they will sing their song together.
In her fifth autobiography, Angelou relates her pilgrimage to Ghana, where she seeks to understand her African roots. The source of security, she comes to learn, is not in a place but within oneself.
Angelou chooses to live in Ghana following the end of her marriage. Angelou joins a group of black Americans who have come to Ghana to be part of the great experiment. Angelou hopes that she and her son will find a land freed of the racial bigotry she has faced wherever she has lived or traveled. Hopeful and idealistic, she sets herself up for disappointment and disillusion. During her three-year stay in Africa, she is not welcomed as she has expected to be; even more painful, she is frequently ignored by the very people with whom she thinks she shares roots, the Africans.
As she tries to understand this new kind of pain and homelessness, she also struggles with the sense of having two selves, an American self and an African self. A stunning example of this struggle occurs when the black American community in Ghana, together with some sympathetic Ghanaians, decides to support the August 27, , March on Washington—the march led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The march does not have the impact its participants hope it will have because the demonstrators, including Angelou, are ambivalent about who they are, where they are, and where their quest for security is leading them. This ambivalence is dramatized when one of the marchers jeers a black soldier who is raising the American flag in front of the American embassy, prompting Angelou to reflect on the fact that the Stars and Stripes was the flag of the expatriates and, more important, their only flag.
The recognition of her divided self continues during the remainder of her stay in African, including during time spent with Malcolm X. Her parents divorced when she was only three years old, and she and her older brother Bailey were sent to live with their grandmother in Arkansas three years after Maya was born.
Maya grew up in the south during a very racist period and the traditional african-american courtesy and respect academy of achievement. She had a hard young life, and writes in her autobiography, "I know why the caged bird sings" how she remembers being more literate than her own mother Angelou After living with her grandmother for a few years, whom her and her brother would call "momma", Maya and Bailey went to live with their mother in St. At an age of only eight years old, Maya was raped by her mother's boyfriend http: She didn't feel strong enough to confess to the adults in her life, and confided in her brother.
After she learned that her uncle had killed the man who molested her, Maya felt responsible and was speechless for five years Academy of achievement. Following this incident, Maya and her brother went back to live with their grandmother. At age 13, Maya moved back to her mother who lived in San Francisco.
Maya's passion of music and drama as a teenager, earned her a scholarship to study at San Francisco's Labor School. Maya goes through her education and dropped out at age 14 to become San Francisco's first African-American cable car conductor. She then goes back to school and during her senior year becomes pregnant, and has her baby a few weeks after graduating. Maya began her long life of careers in , when she started performing and producing. She went through many jobs such as editor of english language newsweekly, administrator of School and Music Drama, and worked as a waitress and cook to support herself and son right out of high school.
Maya has many awards and achievements from poetry and acting. She was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for a collection of her poetry, and served on two presidential committees.
She was awarded the Presidential medal of arts in , and the Lincoln medal in
Free Maya Angelou papers, essays, and research papers.
This essay on the poem Phenomenal Woman1 by Maya Angelou will answer that question. For those who have read Maya Angelou's poem from know it is a celebration of life as a successful woman, being highly powerful and dramatic, the poem is written to perform for an audience.
Essays and criticism on Maya Angelou - Critical Essays. Maya Angelou Maya Angelou is one of the great figures in contemporary American literature. Her poetry helps spread the word of equality to African American women and to all those who are oppressed. It is for this reason, she has received so much critical acclaim.
Free Essays from Bartleby | the time she was born, Maya Angelou was subjected to racism, rape, grief and dehumanization. She beared enough emotional stress. Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou is one of the most famous African-American women figures. As well as an inspiring figure as a poet, Maya is also well known to have been a great actress, educator, historian, author, playwright, director and producer (books-wrfd.tk).