Maya Angelou Analysis

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Born Marguerite Annie Johnson on 4 April 1928 to Bailey and Vivian Baxter Johnson, Maya Angelou, then three, was sent to live with her grandmother, Annie Henderson. Writing about her growing up years in Stamps, Arkansas in her first autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1971), Angelou describes the helplessness and social disadvantage blacks faced in almost all situations, calling herself and her brother ‘explorers walking without weapons into man-eating animals’ territory.’ She felt that ‘people are those who live on my side of town…’ showing apparent in-group behaviour even at such a young age. Her rebellious spirit later manifested in her poems, which often show the resilience of the human spirit. Angelou was descended from the…show more content…
She enjoyed a deep sense of comfort with her older brother, Bailey. Angelou spent her teenage years with her mother, Vivian Baxter, who championed feminism and union and civil rights for blacks. She encouraged Angelou to follow her heart’s desires, no matter what the rest of the world might say. With her own unusual pursuits and a mentality far ahead of her time, Vivian encouraged her to think differently and not be afraid to do so. This is reflected in her poem Still I Rise (1978). Angelou imbibed the values of traditional African-American families from her grandmother. She was made to learn that “the impudent child was detested by God and a shame to its parents and could bring destruction to its house and line.” These teachings were probably the building blocks of her attitude and personality. When she was eight, Angelou wasraped by her mother’s boyfriend. He was murdered two days later, and believing that it was her voice (she had testified against him in court) that caused his death, she went mute for about six years after that. During this time, she developed her exceptional memory. In an interview by the Smithsonian Magazine in 2003, she said, “I seem to be able to direct the brain; I can say, do that. I say, remember this, remember that.” She was astonishingly intelligent, but in an unconventional way – she never received a formal university

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