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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya…
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (original 1969; edition 1983)

by Maya Angelou

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7,514103459 (3.93)268
Member:jmchshannon
Title:I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Authors:Maya Angelou
Info:Bantam (1983), Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

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» See also 268 mentions

English (102)  Dutch (1)  All languages (103)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
She's a good writer. This is an autobiography. Growing up black and segregated. I enjoyed it at first but got tired of it. Kind of repetitious. ( )
  pdepena | Jul 25, 2014 |
I know I read this for school at some point as well...9th grade maybe?

*

Quotes

In Stamps the segregation was so complete that most Black children didn't really, absolutely know what whites looked like. Other than that they were different, to be dreaded, and in that dread was included the hostility of the powerless against the powerful, the poor against the rich, the worker against the worked for and the ragged against the well dressed. (20)

Turning off or tuning out people was my highly developed art. The custom of letting obedient children be seen but not heard was so agreeable to me that I went one step further: Obedient children should not see or hear if they chose not to do so. (church, 34)

But what mother and daughter understand each other, or even have the sympathy for each other's lack of understanding? (57)

It was the same old quandary. I had always lived it. There was an army of adults, whose motives and movements I couldn't understand and who made no effort to understand mine. (rape, 62)

Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives. (Saturdays, 94)

Like most self-pitying people, I had very little pity for my relatives' anxiety. (Bailey missing, 95)

It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense. (graduation, 153)

[Bailey] was away in a mystery, locked in the enigma that young Southern Black boys start to unravel, start to try to unravel, from seven years old to death. The humorless puzzle of inequality and hate. (drowned man, 168)

The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education. (Daddy Clidell, 186)

The needs of a society determine its ethics... (crime, 190)

"We are the victims of the world's most comprehensive robbery. Life demands a balance. It's all right if we do a little robbing now." (191)

I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of the opportunity to be otherwise. (239)
  JennyArch | Jul 8, 2014 |
A wonderful read. I think, more useful if you were born as part of the majority than a minority. ( )
  siddartha | Jun 23, 2014 |
***This review assumes that you know the basic details of Maya Angelou’s life and may have spoilers if you don’t.***

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Dr. Angelou’s account of her life from three or four years old through seventeen years old. It’s different from most autobiographies in that it’s not strictly chronologically. It’s more of a series of vignettes from her life that have common themes.

It starts off when her parents shipped her and brother off to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their grandmother, who they called Momma. And they were literally shipped – put on the train by themselves with a tag pinned to them with where they were going written on it. Living in Stamps, Maya experiences blatant racism from most all of the white people she encounters. This book presents outstanding, horrible examples of white privilege. If you know anyone who doesn’t understand the concept, recommend this book to them.

One particular incident that haunted me is when Maya is eight years old, she and her brother are sent to live with her mother, who her brother calls Mother Dear, for a time. While there, Maya is sexually assaulted and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Her description of the emotions she experienced during these events is so brutally honest. I was impressed with the courage that must have taken. The rape and the subsequent murder of the perpetrator are what let to Maya’s muteness for the next five years.

Dr. Angelou is, of course, a fabulous writer. She crafts wonderful metaphors and descriptions. She also has wit. The story about her thinking she might be a lesbian (which she thinks is a hermaphrodite) is particularly humorous.

You’ve probably read this book already. I think it’s on every “books to read before you die” list that there is. If you haven’t read it, do so as soon as you can. ( )
  mcelhra | Jun 22, 2014 |
Very well written and an interesting story, bit slow for the first part but then a bit too quickly paced in the second half which skips over quite a lot of her life in California. ( )
  rlangston | Jun 18, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maya Angelouprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This book is dedicated to my son
Guy Johnson,
and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs
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What you looking at me for?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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James Baldwin Writes:

This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women...
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw every day, have I found myself so moved ...
her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."

The Moving and Beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. She continues her story in gather together in GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS and THE HEART OF A WOMAN.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553279378, Mass Market Paperback)

In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:36 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Presents the story of a spirited and gifted, but poor, black girl growing up in the South in the 1930's. Tells how she came into her own, experiencing prejudice, family difficulties, and a relationship with a teacher who taught her to respect books, learning, and herself. The moving and beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. "I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood have I found myself so moved. Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death".-James Baldwin.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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