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Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of five volumes of Maya Angelous autobiography which cover the years from the early 1930s up until about 1970 Out of the five it is probably the most popular and critically acclaimed volume dealing with Angelous childhood up to her coming-of-age at sixteen All of her volumes center around the themes of family self-discovery and motherhood though in terms of writing style and plot each of them is different Mayas mother Vivian Baxter and her son Guy born at the end of this book are also central figures throughout Angelous life story As an autobiography Caged Bird adheres to many conventions of the genre it features first-person narration is organized chronologically and is focused on the development of the self However Angelou also uses many stylistic elements more common to fiction works like dialogue fully fleshed-out characters and close description of sensory details from her past The work could also be thought of as combining fictional techniques with autobiography since the story is told by an adult who is recreating a childlike voice and point of view for the novel The many vivid descriptions and recreations of Angelous early life in this volume also beg the question of how Angelou could manage to remember such tiny details from her childhood well enough to reconstruct them in the book Angelou wrote this autobiography for several reasons one was as a reminder not to give in during the trials of growing up Angelou has said somebody needs to tell young people listen I did this and I did that You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated Caged Bird is sometimes considered essential reading for young students and is on many required reading lists however the book has also proved controversial because of its honest depictions of sexuality and Angelous discussion of being raped as a child This book was written in the
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