Free Study Guide for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: Book Summary|
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When she returns home, Maya tells Bailey about her fantasy revenge. Later Momma tells them she extracted ten dollars from Dr. Lincoln for his insult. Momma and Uncle Willie have a good laugh over the white man’s evil behavior and Momma’s extortion, but Maya prefers her version of the story to the truth.
This chapter is a masterful blend of tragedy and comedy, involving Maya’s rotten tooth and her fantasy involving Momma as a superhuman pitted against the evil white dentist. It is tragic that Maya, a child, receives no regular dental treatment, for there is no black dentist in Stamps; the closest one is in Texarkana. As a result, one of Maya’s teeth has rotted and is causing her great pain. Momma decides to take Maya to see Dr. Lincoln, a white dentist. During the Depression, she had lent him money, and she is sure he will do her a favor. Travelling to the dentist office in the white section of town, Maya is taunted by the white children. In reaction, she forces her pain into the background, stops moaning, and holds her head high. It is certainly tragic that children, because of the prejudice taught by their parents, can be so cruel to one another.
The real tragedy of the chapter occurs when Maya and Momma arrive at Dr. Lincoln’s office. Knowing that they would not be welcome in the front door, they enter through the servants’ entrance. Even then, the nurse is horribly rude to them, treating them less than human. Then Dr. Lincoln refuses to treat Maya, even though she is in great pain. He says that he would rather treat a dog than a "nigger."
There is some comedy within the chapter. When Momma sends Maya outside while she talks to the dentist, Maya imagines her as a superhero overpowering the evil white dentist. In truth, Momma is able to shame Dr. Lincoln into giving her ten dollars in payment for the insult he has inflicted. It is a small victory, but Momma and Uncle Willie are able to laugh about it. Maya, however, is saddened to learn that her grandmother is not as powerful as she imagined.
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. 09 May 2017