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Maya Angelolu Essay, Research Paper

In Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird sings, she reflects the various societies she grew up in. Maya growing up occurred mainly in stamps, Arkansas. She later moved to St. Louis. After her short-lived stay in St. Louis, she moved to San. Francisco. In each of these there locations, women and blacks were treated differently. Each of these varying attitudes has influenced Maya in several ways. Stamps, Arkansas is also refereed to as hang-em high Arkansas. The white people in this town lack tolerance for blacks and women. Blacks were forced to do all the jobs that the white people did not want to do. Pick cotton and various physically demanding jobs. Black women had to stay at home. They sowed clothes for the family. Moma bought two bolts of cloth. One for summers one for winter. (41).Women were sowing their own clothes and cleaning the house. That and cooking made up a black woman s day. A setting like this does not fit the 1940 s. It fits the 1840 s better. In the 1940 s, women had the right to vote, and women could work. For the first time ever in American history, women held their own bank accounts and money. This is a revolutionary period, and Maya is stranded in a culture that has not left the last century. This society is a negative influence on Maya. Maya is going to be a revolutionary woman. She will brake the race and gender barrier that was present in the world of literature. She is a revolutionary of our time; the fact that she is living in such an antiquated society is detrimental to her. Another society that Maya lived in during her childhood is St. Louis. In St. Louis many things regarding blacks and women is different. Black men no longer performed physically demanding jobs. Black men like Maya s uncles owned clubs and bars. Black women like Grandmother Baxter held political power. This is a massive change from stamps. St. Louis had all the qualities of a gold rush town… bootlegging, gambling, and prohibition. (61). This setting was defiantly a positive influence on Maya. For the first time, ever she wore store bought clothes. She finally felt that she was living in the 1940 s. She was living in the cradle of civilization, St. Louis. This was definitely an influence on young Maya; she was witnessing a revolution involving both blacks and women. This is what inspired her to change our generation.

Maya s third society in which she lived in is San Francisco. This experience is the most eventful experience in her book. San Francisco is very similar to St. Louis. In San Francisco, women had political power, and women were working in all fields, including acting. Maya again was able to witness the awe of a revolutionary period. She was able to partake in the transition of black women into the work force. Maya was the first black and the first female cable car operator. In the beginning, the cable car Company did not want to take her. Nevertheless, after months of pushing she finally received the break she deserved. This taught Maya a valuable lesson, that if you put your mind to something. You can do anything, despite your race or gender. Another reason why San Francisco was a positive influence on Maya is when she was in the junkyard, she learned that people of all races, and nationalities can come together, and live together. This is why San Francisco was a positive influence on Maya angelou. In conclusion, women and blacks were treated differently in each of the three locations that Maya lived in. In Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird sings, she reflects the various venues: stamps, Arkansas, St. Louis, San. Francisco, each of these venues reflects a separate attitude towards blacks and women.


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