Thursday, January 20, 2011

"I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou

Published: 1969
Read: 2011
Genre: Memoir
Setting: Stamps, Arkansas, St. Louis, California in 30's - 40's
Rating: 4
Lists: 1,001 books
Review: English Major's Junk Food
Maya Angelou's web site

Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928.

Began reading this book while reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  This is the first of 6 autobiographical books.  There are a number of quotes that I really liked.

Favorite Quotes

"She had given me her secret word which called for the a djinn who was to serve me all my life: books."

Her mother:
"Sympathy is next to shit in the dictionary and I can't even read."

Reference to suicide:
"What would I do?  Did I have the nerve to commit suicide?  Don't kill yourself, you can always do that if things get bad enough."

Best coming-of-age sentence:
"Without willing it, I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware."

Quote in Josh's blog

Strong Negro female - beautifully said:
"The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.  The fact that the adult Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.  It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance."

Negro male - awareness and struggle with racism.  I love these sentences - so strong, so clear, so direct.
"He 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.  His experience raised the question of worth and values, of aggressive inferiority and aggressive arrogance."

  • Marguerite or Rita or Maya
  • Bailey - her brother
  • Momma - her paternal grandmother
  • Uncle Willie
  • Mother - Vivian Johnson
  • Guy - her baby
  • Rape by her mother's boyfriend who was subsequently murdered
  • 8th grade graduation in 1940 when she was 12 years old
  • Trip to Mexico with her father
  • Living in the auto junkyard for a month
  • Sex with a boy to prove she wasn't a lesbian, then pregnant!  Hid her pregnancy well into the 8th month. 
  • Read her Collected Autobiography

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