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Pierre A. Walker’s analysis of the book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou expresses how the race of African-Americans struggled back in the days when segregation was strong. Walker talks about Angelou’s book and how discrimination, race, and community impacted Angelou’s life throughout her childhood and youth. Walker also mentioned that for Angelou it was very difficult to talk about her life even harder to write an autobiography about her life, but what Angelou did not know was that writing books, poetry, and literature, in general, would open her up to new paths to her life.
Walker highlights that literature for African-Americans was more than just writing, it was a way to let the world know the impact they have made in their lives. As in Zora Neale Hurston, she does not only demonstrate the impact people have made in her life but also she wants to “demonstrate an elusive element of protest in her novels” (Walker 92) to show the political impact in the African- American texts.
In this analysis, Walker tries to reflect the fact that they(African-Americans) themselves were humans who deserved to be treated as such.
One of my reactions to Walker’s analysis was that he does really make a point in everything he mentions in the text like when he talks about Maya’s life when she was amazed by the way the “Po white trash” girls talked about her grandmother and how her grandmother behaved with them, Walker adds a quote from the book that really shows what he is meaning by his statement “I burst.
A firecracker July-the-Fourth burst. How could Momma call them Miz? The mean nasty things. Why couldn’t she have come inside the sweet, cool store when we saw them breasting the hill? What did she prove? And then if they were dirty, mean and impudent, why did Momma have to call them Miz?” (26). Walker explains well how it impacted Angelou’s life by the way the white girls did not have respect for a black old woman just because of the color of her skin. He emphasizes that after all Angelou understood why her grandmother acted like that since “Maya and Momma demonstrated that, unlike the white trash girls, they are neither dirty nor impudent” (Walker 95) and that instead, they (Maya and Momma) are showing their human dignity.
I think that Walker’s idea that the power of words is such an important theme in Angelou’s life since he alludes to the chapter of Mrs. Flowers, where she helped Maya develop self-confidence “I was liked, and what a difference it made. I was respected… for just being Marguerite Johnson… she had made tea cookies for me and read to me from her favorite book” (85). Walker touches on racism too since Mrs. Flowers does not only help Maya with her insecurity but also Mrs. Flowers’s “step in Maya’s sense of identity” (Walker 97).
In conclusion, I agree with Walker’s analysis in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou since he makes clear points of what the book really is about and also he describes well the main themes the book have: identity, words, race, gender, religion, and displacement. Walker reflects on some things and has a supportive response to it so it made it easier to get the point since he explained everything in detail.
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