I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Questions and Answers, Appreciation
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is a powerful expression of the sufferings of black Americans and their longing and struggle for freedom and equality.
It has been written by Maya Angelou, who is a powerful feminist writer of Afro American ethnicity.
There are two birds in the poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
The first bird is free, and it represents the white American.
The second bird is caged, and it represents the black America.
The Free Bird leads the life of dignity grant your and infinite possibilities.
The Caged Bird leads the life of fear, longing and subjugation.
The Free Bird continues to enjoy life and broadens his horizons.
The Caged Bird continues to sink deeper and deeper into the negation of his very existence.
But the caged bird still continues to sing of his desire for freedom.
Now let us read the poem slowly and understand the meaning.
The poem begins with a striking image of a free bird leaping on the back of the wind that is flying with the wind.
The wind carries the Free Bird along, which means that circumstances are favourable for the Free Bird and floats downstream till the current ends.
This means that the bird then glides smoothly along with the current of the wind, the current takes him along and dips his wings in the orange sunrays.
This means that the bird is able to fly unrestricted and enjoy the beauty of the sunset.
The words downstream and dips evoke images of a sunset over a river, and the free bird is able to enjoy everything and dares to claim the sky.
So the Free Bird is bold enough to assert is right over everything.
The sky means limitless possibilities limitless resources limitless grant your and the Freebirds says that all of it is his.
The second stanza shows us the completely contrasting condition of the caged bird. But the bird that stalks down this narrow cage.
So while the Free Bird Lives in circumstances that are in his favour, and can claim the entire sky as his own.
The Caged Bird Lives in a cage which is narrow, narrow and confined, restricted.
All the caged bird can do is move up and down in frustration in this confined area, can seldom see through his bar suffrage.
So the caged bird cannot even see cannot even fathom has no true idea of the limitless possibilities that exist for the free bird.
He can hardly see anything through the bars of rage all around his cage.
Now what are these bars of rage? The bar suffrage are the racial discrimination and subjugation imposed by the hatred of the whites.
These bars of phrase are also the sadness the frustration, the fury and the fear felt by the black by the black American represented by the N caged bird trapped in the cage by these bars.
The caged bird cannot envision anything, cannot plan cannot hope cannot dream even his wings are clipped and his feet are tied.
So he opens his throat to saying all opportunities are denied to the caged bird.
Even his wings are clipped and his feet are tied. He can hardly move in his narrow cage.
The only thing that he can do now in order to express himself is say so he opens his throat to say but the question is, what does he think of under these drying circumstances? What can he sing about?
So let us find out in the next stanza.
So the caged bird sings with fearful trail of things unknown, but longed for still.
The Caged Bird is terribly fearful. What does he feel? He fears for the harassment, torture, even death.
Let’s remember that Martin Luther King and Malcolm X alongside who Maya Angelou fought for civil rights were both killed.
But the bird still sings his song, although it is in a voice full of fear.
He thinks about freedom and opportunity.
He thinks about the freedom that is denied to him about the opportunities that he may not even know of at this point. But that doesn’t stop him from longing for them.
Although he doesn’t know these things, he still longs for them because all human beings long for these same things.
These are the birthright of every human being.
The song that is things can never be confined, even if he himself is confined.
The strains of the song are carried to the distant hill, that is to those who can help the caged bird to those who can be motivated to free the caged bird. Why? Because the caged bird sings of freedom.
So the poet stresses here that people cannot be kept engaged and oppressed for long, they will struggle against all odds and express their voice.
This voice will be heard in many places far off places, and the impact of this voice will be too powerful to ignore.
The Free Bird thinks of another breeze.
So meanwhile, the Free Bird having enjoyed flying in the breeze and the beauty of the sunset starts thinking of another breeze.
Another breeze means new or more opportunities, and the trade winds soft through the sign trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn.
So the Free Bird is able to explore and experience the trade winds blowing from long distances gently through the sign trees, he’s able to move to new places and experience new things.
He has the freedom to find his own food. He can go as far as he likes, and he can enjoy the fat warms waiting for him on a lawn brightly lit up at dawn.
So this means that for the white man, everything is made easy and convenient.
All the resources of the world are laid open to him.
He has no idea and he’s totally oblivious to the sufferings of the black man. He enjoys fat worms which means the choicest pickings of food or whatever he likes. And he names the sky his own.
This means that the Free Bird asserts his claim on the sky.
He says that the sky is his and only is similarly the white man says that only he has the right to the resources and opportunities that the world has to offer.
He does not even conceive of sharing them with a black man.
But the caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.
In stark contrast to the condition of the Free Bird, the caged birds dreams are dead, and he stands in his cage on their grave.
His dreams are dead and buried, which is the worst thing that can happen to anybody.
Because if there are no dreams, there is no hope.
And then life is nothing except torture.
His shadow shouts on a nightmare screen. So with his dreams dead, and his very existence negated.
The Caged Bird is no longer even sure of his identity, which is why he becomes nothing else but a shadow.
He’s not even a real entity, he is a shadow. Still he makes all the effort he can in order to scream loudly as he lives a life that is like a nightmare. His wings are clipped and his feet are tight so he opens his throat to sing. Even in this worst condition, the Bird opens his throat to sing because it is only his song that can liberate him.
The poet is repeating the third stanza of the poem here again.
She does this in order to emphasise that no matter how hopeless and frustrating the conditions become, the caged bird will still continue to sing its song of freedom.
And this song will give expression to its sufferings and its thirst for freedom.
It will be heard far and wide, and the blacks will continue to struggle against all odds, and in due course, they will surely be liberated.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Questions and Answers
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