I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


SELRES_e5f1884f-2c36-4b5c-aaa6-bcfa2f47660aSELRES_018cdb74-d0d6-4aac-bbed-b585e99a0ab2SELRES_d841e0bb-ad55-45d9-9fee-f74b553e8f1fSELRES_8365d3e9-f457-4f64-961f-a1e48dc0aba1“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

Maya Angelou, from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

RickI chose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as a companion book for To Kill a Mockingbird and read them together for perspective. Both are autobiographies aspiring to literature and both are told by grown women recalling their girlhood years in the Depression era south. The key difference of course is that one girl is white and the other is black.

Thematically, both books examine prejudice; one from the outside in, the other -more painfully – from the inside out.

Maya Angelou is gifted but she’s not Harper Lee, and it’s unfair to hold them comparatively as literature – so I won’t. I’m also a white man and won’t pretend to appreciate the black woman’s pathos that can only be understood in one singular way. I’m just a reader.

The book tracks the author’s life from 3 to 17 and is a coming of age story. It’s the first of six books and it ends abruptly without closure or resolution. It’s brutal by design and does not blink at child rape or lynching, nor does it soft pedal generalizations. The only thing really worse than whitefolks in this book is powhitetrash, and it’s often difficult to tell the difference.

I spent most of the book heartbroken by the things she endured. I concluded the book heartbroken than she never grew beyond her own racial walls. I kept waiting for her to reach out to me, but it never happened. I simply wasn’t her audience.

Maybe the other books find room for a human race.

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.


Published by

Rick Wilcox

Rick is voraciously interested in the holistic transformation of people individually and in an organizational context - enabled by technology, educated continuously through multi-channel systems and informed by the wisdom of history's greatest thinkers. He is a Ph.D. student at Faulkner University, focusing on the appearance of the Logos in English Literature. He earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Science in Management from Sam Houston State University. His undergraduate studies earned a BA with double majors in Sociology and Theology from Houston Baptist University. Rick is an ordained minister who leads the Parenting Teens Adult Community at Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands Texas.