Imagery is dominant in this poem, especially after Angelou questions her oppressors. Much of her imagery is conveyed through similes and metaphors. This usuage of figurative languages gives us a very clear picture of what Angelou means and usually conveys a strong emotion. The two of these combined makes the images even stronger. The poem is more a narrative than anything else because Angelou interacts with her audience as she talks about the highs and lows of her life and history.
The main symbol throughout the poem is that of rising dust. For dust to rise, it must be unsettled from the ground in some way and then forms a dust cloud. But once the dust has been unsettled from the ground, it can leave and RISE. This poem has a very certain seriousness to it, but Angelou brings in her pride as an African American woman and injects playful images into the poem when questioning her oppressors.
The stanzas that have questions show the direct relationship between the speaker and the audience, Angelou and her oppressors, and allows the reader to put themselves in the heat of the discussion and in the heart of the poem. In a significant incident, she reveals the ability to survive that her granddaughter will eventually develop herself. Throughout this series of insults, Momma does not react to the girls and, instead, stands on the porch, smiling and humming a hymn.
She was superior, and she had survived. She had also taught her granddaughter a lesson for all time. Most lessons, however, need to be learned and relearned, and so Angelou faces that uphill battle when, at the age of eight, she is displaced again, this time to be returned to her mother in St.
Whereas Stamps represents security and orderliness, St. Louis symbolizes its opposites. Confused and terrified by this act and the subsequent murder of Freeman—a murder that the child mistakenly thinks she has caused—Angelou becomes a voluntary mute and lives in a world of silence for nearly five years. She is healed by Bertha Flowers, a woman in Stamps, to which Maya returns.
Flowers extends friendship to the mute Maya, a friendship that beckons the young girl to leave her self-imposed silence and embrace a new world of words, poems, songs, and a journal that chronicles this new stage in her life. Moving to Oakland and then San Francisco in , at the age of thirteen, Maya rejoins her mother and deals with dislocation and displacement still again. At this point in her life, however, she is maturing and learning that the role of victim, while still a role to which she is assigned, is also a role played by others—blacks and whites.
She learns that the human challenge is to deal with, protest against, and rise above the trap of being victimized and exploited. In the final scene of the novel, Angelou is not merely a young woman coming to this realization for herself; she is a young mother who has just borne a son and who is therefore struggling to see how she can be responsible not only for herself but also for another.
The book ends with this sense of mutual responsibility and mutual survival: Mother and child know why the caged bird sings, and they will sing their song together. In her fifth autobiography, Angelou relates her pilgrimage to Ghana, where she seeks to understand her African roots.
The source of security, she comes to learn, is not in a place but within oneself. Angelou chooses to live in Ghana following the end of her marriage.
Angelou joins a group of black Americans who have come to Ghana to be part of the great experiment. Angelou hopes that she and her son will find a land freed of the racial bigotry she has faced wherever she has lived or traveled. Hopeful and idealistic, she sets herself up for disappointment and disillusion.
During her three-year stay in Africa, she is not welcomed as she has expected to be; even more painful, she is frequently ignored by the very people with whom she thinks she shares roots, the Africans.
As she tries to understand this new kind of pain and homelessness, she also struggles with the sense of having two selves, an American self and an African self. A stunning example of this struggle occurs when the black American community in Ghana, together with some sympathetic Ghanaians, decides to support the August 27, , March on Washington—the march led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The march does not have the impact its participants hope it will have because the demonstrators, including Angelou, are ambivalent about who they are, where they are, and where their quest for security is leading them. This ambivalence is dramatized when one of the marchers jeers a black soldier who is raising the American flag in front of the American embassy, prompting Angelou to reflect on the fact that the Stars and Stripes was the flag of the expatriates and, more important, their only flag.
The recognition of her divided self continues during the remainder of her stay in African, including during time spent with Malcolm X. The volatile activist has a profound impact upon Angelou, who had met him two years earlier but who sees him and hears his words from her current context of an orphan looking for a home and looking for reasons to stay in that home. As she observes the various personalities Malcolm X exhibits—from big-brother adviser to spokesperson against oppression and for revolutions—she reflects upon his commitment to changing the status quo in the United States.
Ultimately, Angelou is compelled to return to the United States. She leaves, having become aware that home is not a geographical location but a psychological state. Shortly after she lands in California, he is assassinated before her work with him can begin. Her brother takes his grief-stricken sister to Hawaii, where she sings in nightclubs, with no notable success.
Therefore, she is not surprised by the outbreak of violence and senses the riots before she learns of them. We smelled the conflagration before we heard it, or even heard about it. Burning wood was the first odor that reached my nose, but it was soon followed by the smell of scorched food, then the stench of smoldering rubber. We had one hour of wondering before the television news reporters arrived breathlessly.
After a stormy encounter with her former lover, Angelou returns to New York, where she meets Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, history repeats itself. Before she can go south for the movement, King also is assassinated. Again devastated, Angelou becomes a recluse until writer James Baldwin invites her to a dinner with glittering New York literati that reawakens her passion for writing.
Maya angelou essays Maya Angelou is one of the great figures in contemporary American literature. Her poetry helps spread the word of equality to African American women and to all those who are oppressed. It is for this reason, she has received so much critical acclaim. In order to fully understan.
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Essays and criticism on Maya Angelou - Critical Essays. Although Maya Angelou is most famous for these, she has one significant accomplishment that many people would not know about. In , she was the first African American woman to compose a screenplay and have it filmed.
Essay on Maya Angelou: An Example of Perseverance - Maya Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, dropped out of high school, was a teenage mom, and constantly dealt with racism. Who would have thought that someone who had gone through so much would someday be such a confident, inspirational woman. This poem is written with Maya Angelou herself as the speaker. She is speaking to her audience of oppressors about how she has overcome racism, criticism, sexism, and personal obstacles in her life with pride and grace. This poem is historically rooted with the mentions of slavery, a “past of pain,” and “gifts of ancestors,” [ ].