I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou has exceeded my expectations because of how well Angelou crafts her story. In fact, I’m interested in analyzing the way she takes on the perspective of herself as a child. The innocence of Maya’s character takes an emotional toll on the reader because of how she writes about getting sexually assaulted by her Mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman when she was only 8 years old. It’s infuriating that he is taking advantage of Maya’s naiveté by threatening to kill her brother, Bailey if she dares to tell anybody. Angelou brings her childhood perspective to the light when she writes, “Could I tell her now? The terrible pain assured me that I couldn’t. What he did to me, and what I allowed must have been very bad if already God let me hurt so much. If Mr. Freeman was gone, did that mean Bailey was out of danger? And if so, if I told him, would he still love me?” (Angelou 80). It is heart-breaking to read about how she fears God’s anger over what happened even though she was the victim, and now she scared to tell anybody about the horrible suffering that she went though because she loves her brother so much. These thoughts embody Marguerite’s innocence to the big, bad world that she isn’t even completely aware of.
Angelou describes most of the story in the perspective of herself as a child, but she also includes reactions to her childhood experiences as an adult. It’s easy to tell when she switches perspectives because of the sophisticated diction that suddenly pops out in a background of simple language, but the transitions are pretty smooth, probably due to the fact that it is the same girl talking despite so many years in between. This is evident when she writes, “I couldn’t understand why he wanted to kill my brother. Neither of us and done anything to him…The act of rape on an eight-year-old body is a matter of the needle giving because the camel can’t. The child gives, because the body can and the mind of the violator cannot” (Angelou 77). This is impactful because it shows her innocence towards the event at the moment and an explanation from her looking back at the event with maturity. The diction may be completely different, but both perspectives are powerful in their own ways. I look forward to see how her story unfolds in the chapters to come.