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Free Study Guide for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: Book Summary

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CHAPTER 29


Summary


At first, Maya considers Daddy Clidell to be just another one of Vivian’s lovers; but she begins to admire him as a simple, hard-working man, who has succeeded in spite of his lack of education. The owner of several apartment buildings and pool halls, Clidell is known as "a man of honor." His house is a "fourteen-room typical San Franciscan post-earthquake affair," where a succession of roomers come and go; they include shipyard workers, "much-powdered prostitutes," college graduates, and restaurant owners.

While Vivian is busy teaching Maya personal hygiene, proper posture, table manners, and other things, Daddy Clidell teaches Maya how to play poker, blackjack, tonk, and other card games. He also sometimes takes her with him when he is working; he introduces her to his underworld friends, who mistakenly believe she is Clidell’s daughter since they resemble one another. One of men, called Red Leg, tells Maya a story of how he conned a white con man by selling him a piece of land that belongs to the state. Maya laughs at the incident and believes it to be a great achievement. She says of her race, "We are the victims of the world’s most comprehensive robbery. Life demands a balance. It’s all right if we do a little robbing now."


Notes


At first Maya tries to write off Daddy Clidell as another faceless name added to Vivian’s roster of conquests. Clidell, however, refuses to be dismissed like that. Although he is strong and proud, he is also tender and intelligent. He spends time with Maya, teaching her card games. He also takes her with him from time to time when he is working.



CHAPTER 30


Summary


Maya is invited to Southern California to spend the summer with Daddy Bailey. His girlfriend, Dolores, starts corresponding with Maya a few months prior to her arrival and meets her at the station. Both Maya and Dolores are shocked to see each other. Maya had expected Dolores to be a woman her father’s age, but she is very young--not much older than Maya. Dolores is shocked to see Maya as well, for Daddy Bailey had told her that his children were younger than ten. Maya is fifteen and nearly six feet tall.

Maya lives with Daddy Bailey and Dolores in a trailer park. The fastidious Dolores is a stickler for details, and Maya seems to constantly disrupt her routine. Daddy Bailey seems to enjoy the tension between his young girlfriend and his daughter.

One day Daddy Bailey asks Maya to go with him to Mexico. He says she can practice her Spanish on the trip. On the way Daddy Bailey stops for a drink. Loosened by the alcohol, he jokingly asks a guard at the border if he would like to marry Maya. At another cantina, Daddy Bailey disappears for a while, and Maya wonders if she has been sold as a black-market bride. When Daddy Bailey finally returns, he is incredibly drunk and passes out in the back seat. Maya, not wanting to spend the night in the car, decides to drive, even though she does not know how. At the border, she hits another car. As the border guards are about to call the police, Daddy Bailey wakes up and settles everything with ease. He and Maya return home without further incident.


Notes


Daddy Bailey’s insensitivities and inabilities as a father and a boyfriend are very obvious in this chapter. He invites Maya to come to southern California to stay with him, but after she arrives, he continually pits her against Dolores, his young girlfriend. Knowing that Dolores is jealous, Daddy Bailey takes Maya with him to Mexico, leaving Dolores behind to wonder and worry.

Daddy Bailey’s behavior toward Maya at the border is terrible. He jokingly offers the fifteen-year-old Maya to the border guard, who has been staring at her with pleasure. He then disappears into a cantina to have a few more drinks, leaving Maya alone and frightened. When he finally returns, Daddy Bailey is so drunk that he passes out in the car. Maya takes control and musters the courage to drive the automobile, even thought she has no idea what to do. Not surprisingly, she hits another car; but Daddy Bailey awakes to save the day.


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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: Free BookNotes

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