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Adversity in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Submitted By kirsdayne
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Throughout "I know why the caged bird sings", Maya Angelou portrays her experiences with adversity, as well as the experiences of many others, how she copes with them and how she rises above them. Maya exposes the reality of adversity in all its forms and by the end of the novel we are able to learn what overcoming adversity truly means.
One of the social issues seen is that Maya is not getting the attention she needs from her caregivers. The author uses literary devices to explore the issue when she says "she was like a pretty kite that floated just above my head. If I liked I could pull her to me by saying I had to go to the toilet or by starting a fight with Bailey." This simile helps to show that Maya's mother takes care of her basic needs but fails to give her the actual care and attention a child needs. The issue contributes to the text as a whole by demonstrating how Maya might act in certain situations. An example of this is when she liked the attention she was getting from Mr. Freeman at first, although she knew it wasn't right. Overcoming this adversity helped Maya to grow as a person and become more independent.
As Maya goes through life she often encounters racism such as when she gets a toothache and Momma takes her to the white dentist. During this time we are able to see discrimination against blacks come to life in front of Maya. The quote "Annie, my policy is that I'd rather stick my hand in a dog's mouth than in a nigger's." is used to portray the discrimination Maya must go through. Overcoming this helped her to become a stronger person and eventually become a streetcar conductor although colored people are not aloud on the streetcars.
Maya must also overcome abandonment. When Maya figures out that her parents are still alive she feels that she was abandoned by them when she was sent to live with her grandmother. She says “Why did they send us...

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