12 Jan 2009

Essays on I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Growing up in the economic hardships of the 1930s and coming of age in the 1940s was undoubtedly hard for many children.  For black children, these hardships, when mixed with racism and being treated as less than human, was almost unbearable for many.  Yet through all this, many young black men and women not only managed to survive, but to find balance in an unbalanced world.

 

The book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” written by Maya Angelou in 1969, stands as a novelized autobiography, following the author as a young black girl through her formative years as she suffers abandonment, molestation, violence, and racial prejudice, factors which today are pointed to as the causes of mental illness.  But somehow the author managed not only to survive, but to find the courage to set out on her own, building an independent life and defying the incredible obstacles in her life.  Her transformation from a scared child to a thriving woman of potential is solidified at the end of the novel as she held her newborn child in her arms for the first time.

  • How did Maya Angelou respond to being abandoned by her parents or by being raped at such a young age?  How did her response affect her life long term?
  • Economic hardships are well known to bring out the worst in people.  Could the environment of the Great Depression have been responsible for Maya Angelou’s suffering such abuse?  Would a white girl during the same era have had as much hardships?  Why or why not?  What might have been different?

Essay topics run thick within this powerful, historic autobiographical novel.  From the aftermath of childhood abandonment and sexual abuse to the ways racism presented itself in the 1930s and 1940s, the underlying issues and messages of the novel paint a picture of amazing survival through hardships almost unimaginable in today’s society, yet also sends one resounding theme throughout … that all things are survivable and that the damage from such events need not undermine the future potential of any victim, regardless of the nature of such victimization.

 

Many of the topics Angelou’s works bring forward are points of sensitivity in today’s society.  Student’s often find themselves reiterating modern psychological assumptions without giving them a second thought, leading to carbon copy papers that can hardly be considered challenging of these establish assumptions.  With the familiarity our writers have to novels like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,”  we can assist the student by preparing unique essays on topics such as the effects of childhood sexual abuse and inherent social racism.  All we need to get started is your courageous order.

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