Maya Overcomes Her Struggles
Maya Angelou’s autobiographic main character in her novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is an insecure black girl of 1930’s American South. Maya's parents got divorced when she was only three years old and shipped Maya and her older brother, Bailey, to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson, in rural Stamps, Arkansas. They called their grandmother “momma” because of all the love she gave them. Their momma ran the only store in the black area of Stamps and became the most important lady in Maya's childhood. Maya struggled with her appearance and self-confidence believing she will never come close to being as pretty as a white girl. Maya also faced discrimination of other races. Maya had many struggles, but somehow she found a way to overcome them.
As Maya was growing up with her momma in Stamps all the whites believed they were better than the blacks and treated Maya’s family unfairly. Momma taught Maya to ignore their discrimination and follow God’s word. Momma was very stern with Maya teaching her God’s strict words. Maya used Momma as an example to get through her tough times. For example, one day three white girls came and mocked Momma as she was working in the yard. As the white girls mocked her, Momma hummed a gospel tune and ignored them. Eventually the white girls began to leave and Momma told them to have a nice day. Maya saw this and was angry and asked her why she did not do anything. Her Momma replied by explaining that she has to choose her words and emotions carefully and listen to the ways God wants her to respond. Momma was a big impact in Maya’s life and helped her through some of her struggles.
When Maya was a young girl her first and best friend was named Louise. Louise and Maya did everything together. They would speak inventive languages and hold hands while spinning around in circles and singing. With Louise, Maya started to experience boys more. Louise helped Maya experience being a young girl for the first time. Later in the story Maya went to California to live with her Mother for a short period of time. Maya’s mother was dating a man named Mr. Freeman. One morning when Maya’s mother left, Mr. Freeman raped Maya. After Mr. Freeman raped Maya she got really quiet and isolated. Later on in the story, she overcomes the fear and quietness, and starts to open up again. Having Louise as her friend gave her strength unknowingly before the rape happened.
As Maya gets older she begins to question her sexuality. She is a tall strong woman, and she looks at other women that are thin and small. This makes Maya wonder if she is a lesbian. Maya wants to make these thoughts go away, so she finds a boy on the street and has sex with him. A few months later she finds out she is pregnant. At first, with Maya being young and not having anywhere to live, the pregnancy seems to be a shocking and bad thing. It turns out to be exactly the thing Maya needs. She finds her brother, Bailey, and goes to see the rest of her family back at Stamps. When she has her baby, God gives her a beautiful boy. Her son changed her whole outlook at life. It makes her more responsible and, her son makes her realize how blessed she truly is. Children change peoples’ lives, and it completely changed Maya’s.
Maya had to learn how to live on her own, how to overcome rape, and how to raise her son. After all of her difficulties she still ended up writing a book, helping Martin Luther King Jr. fight for black rights, and growing into a sweet and wise woman. So why did Maya have such a difficult life? How did she overcome all of it? Those questions can only be fully answered by Maya, but one way could have been her relationships throughout her life with her Momma and her friend Louise. Or maybe it was because her Momma was right, that God did have a plan for her. That staying strong with Him did get her through her life’s struggles for He knew what was best for her.