Free Study Guide for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: Book Summary|
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Maya’s story of the black soldier, unlike most of her tales, is not related first hand. Before beginning, she explains that "a story went the rounds;" she then tells the story.
Although her grades are good, Maya is unable to adjust to the girl’s school into which she is admitted. Her classmates are "faster, brasher, meaner and more prejudiced" than any she had met at Lafayette County Training School. Like Maya, most of them have come straight from the South, but they have seen life in the cities. Fortunately, Maya is able to transfer to George Washington High School. At first, she is a little uncomfortable being one of only three black students in the school. She is also disappointed to discover that the white students are brighter than she and that some of the teachers seem to be prejudiced against the black students. Miss Kirwin, however, is a kind teacher that positively influences Maya. She encourages the students to read, does not indulge in favoritism, and does not seem to treat Maya differently because of her color.
Because of her performance, Maya gets a scholarship to the California Labor School, where she takes drama and dance classes. Although Maya loves melodrama, she is forced to take up pantomime. Bailey also encourages her to dance, telling her it will give her better legs.
This chapter traces some of Maya’s academic endeavors. She describes going to school at a girls’ school, at George Washington High, and at the California Labor School. She also takes stock of her life and pays tribute to those who have influenced her "Momma with her solemn determination, Mrs. Flowers and her books, Bailey with his love, (her) mother and her gaiety, Miss Kirwin and her information." She is grateful for the many people who have helped make her whole.
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. 09 May 2017