Angelou I

Angelou I

Perspectives on Narrative

1. Why do you think Maya Angelou chose the first words of her autobiography to be “What you looking at me for? I didn’t come here to stay?” What is the meaning and importance of the prologue as a whole?

I think Maya Angelou chose the first words of her autography to be “What you looking at me for? I didn’t come here to stay?” so that she could express her concern over the atmosphere that was so stereotypic on her, especially her dark skin complexion. She remembers those words to express the hostility her brother and Maya received in the Southern region of the US.

2. What kind of woman is Momma? What is Maya’s relationship with her?

According to the poem, this woman Momma was a very upright woman. She was very particular in the way she wanted her children to grow. She was caring and paid sufficient attention the needs of the children in her care. She was simple, pious and exhibited extraordinary perfection in everything she did.

According to the text, Maya is a granddaughter to Momma.

3. What are Maya and Bailey’s parents like? Do the children seem to love them? Why or why not?

Maya and Bailey’s parents viewed issues of life in two opposite perspectives. According to the text, the two’s mother was alcoholic and a smoker. She bragged of being original and considered everything possible with her. She was too strict to her children to the extent that she could threaten them. Maya did not like her mother because of her perspective. The father was careless and would not shield them from their perspective mother. The two did not seem to love their parents. At age three and four, they Maya and Bailey were sent alone to Arkansas, to be taken care of by their grandmother. This made them hate their parents.

4. Segregation is obviously a harsh reality in Maya’s life and therefore in the text. In chapter 4, Angelou writes, “I remember never believing that whites were really real” (25). What does she mean by this? 

Maya implies that the whites were created in a manner far different from what she had observed to be real human being in her side. According to Maya, real people were not such light see-through skinned as whites, walked on their feet’s balls and not heels like white did, had considerable feet sizes not so small like the white’s and lives a fit life. The lifestyle and complexion of the whites was not matching the life of real people she knew. She sometimes pinched powhitetrash children because she could not believe such a flesh existed (28).

5. In chapter 5, Angelou recalls an episode between her grandmother and the ‘powhitetrash’ children. What happens and why is it important?

The powhitetrash children came down from the hill land and begun to a mess with her. She was frightened and stood lifeless because they were fond of ordering her to give them what they needed from her Store like a kid. The kids behaved imprudent, mean and were dirty. As they were heading to town, they said to her “Bye, Annie.” and she replied “Bye Miz” calling their names after pronouncing “Miz.” This prefix was meant for elderly from a younger person. In this case, it was the opposite. The scene is important in revealing how the dreaded grandmother feared the white. Although she was strict and principled in her home, she could not control the powhitetrash children in the same manner she did control Bailey and Maya. This reveals the irony in her life.

6. Write 2 questions or comments you have about the text and reply to at least 3 of your classmates’ questions/comments.

Commenting on the text, I would like to say that the text is rich with figurative speeches and symbolic portions that reveal the acts of prejudice and segregation between the white and the blacks. The author uses humor to make the text interesting and increase readers craving for the text (Sharma & Shekhawat, 2019). The text is presented frankly referring to the actual issues in life by name. I liked reading it.


Angelou, M. (1997). I know why the caged bird sings. Bantam.

Sharma, S., & Shekhawat, M. (2019). The element of wit and humour in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Submission Guidelines and Subscription, 15, 80-86.