I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Metaphor Analysis
Metaphor Analysis Books
Throughout this autobiography, Maya makes references to the literature she has read as a child (such as Jane Eyre) and demonstrates an almost precocious love of words. Her pleasure in reading exemplifies how good her educational background is, which has occurred despite the lack of funding for education in African-American segregated schools.
Books also become her lifeline (courtesy of Mrs Bertha Flowers) after the ordeal of her rape. Mrs Flowers teaches her that words should not be just seen on the page; they should be spoken aloud too. It is through the written word that Maya is able to take pleasure in the sound of poetry and tentatively gains confidence.
After being raped by Mr Freeman, and after learning of his murder, she turns in on herself and concludes that her lie in court (that he had not touched her before when he had) has condemned him to his death. Her logic is skewed, but it reveals the effect of the trauma and her retreat into silence is a form of protection for others.
As this is an autobiography, her silence is represented as having happened rather than being symbolic. However, it may be interpreted as evidence of backing away from the world and symbolizes an attempt to escape from communication and language. In psychoanalytical terms, the silence may be read as a refusal to engage in the phallocentric (patriarchal) order.
The Store is owned and run by Momma and manages to survive the depression of the 1930s. It is described as a place for the community as well as a business and this is perhaps most telling in the description of when the crowd come to listen to the radio to hear Joe Louis defend his championship.
This place represents not just a rural business or a communal meeting-place, but also stands for hope against adversity. Given the racism of the time and place this work is set in, its existence stands as a testament to Momma’s tenacity and courage.