Character America. The black American autobiography includes the images

traits refer to a person’s behaviors and attitudes that make up the person’s
personality. Every human have both positive and negative character traits. Even
character in books, novels, poetry and drama have character traits. It is shown
in descriptive adjectives like ambitious, courageous, reliable, dairy and
psychotic. The study of personality consists of recognizing and understanding
the traits in a person in particular situations. Without using concepts of
specific character traits we would be unable to continue to communicate with
our friends, relative, students and colleagues.

I know why the caged bird sings
by the African American Maya Angelou’s character represents the characteristics
and aspect of her period. Angelou’s real childhood story states sequential
tough events that happened to her and how she over comes those psychological
trauma. Her character traits played main role for her success from the
childhood. Angelou found herself between the love of her grandmother and the
segregated American southern society.

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is trauma and triumph in her life. Between this there are many psychological
impacts and social issues such as Teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, segregation,
racism, inferiority, and white dominated society. How she struggling and over
come from it, what makes and who insist her to come out from it. The
protagonist found her own rights to deal and overcome from that situation.

American literature probes are freedom and equality which is long denied no Negroes
in United States. The other features are such as African American religion, racism,
culture, slavery and searching identity. African American literature has
reached the main stream as books by black writers continually achieved bestselling
and awards.

is a life narrative. It is one of the richest, most revealing modes of black
expression in present day America. The black American autobiography includes
the images of women as well as their memoirs, reminiscences, diaries and
journals. The participation of black women writers in Autobiographies reachable
in every corner of the world. Their works are consist sociological and psychological

paper analyses the protagonist traits in particular situation and life incidents
that reveals, how her traits are the reason for trauma and triumph of protagonist.
The Researcher analyses the character traits of Maya Angelou in her
autobiographical novel I know why the
caged bird sings.

‘We may encounter many
defeats, but we must not be defeated’ Maya Angelou

story begins with Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson, and her older brother
Bailey are shipped from California to stamps, Arkansas, to live with their
paternal grandmother following their parents’ divorce, Angelou is just three
years old when she and bailey are sent to live with Annie Henderson,
grandmother the women they call “momma” who runs the only store in the black
part of town.

spent most of her childhood with her grandmother; she was self-suffice and
strict person who wanted Maya and her brother Bailey to be well behaved. When
she was eight years old she was raped by Mr. Freeman who is her mother’s
boyfriend after this instance Maya became mute for several years and returned
to Arkansas to her grandmother from her mother. Her child hood is literally
disaster because of her traumatic sexual abuse, racism and displacements. The
story progresses through Angelou’s childhood from the shame she feels when she
is raped by her mother’s boyfriend, to the pride she experiences in becoming
the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco at the age of

following female characters are more important in her life, first her
grandmother Annie Henderson, she provides guidance, love, religious moral
upbringing and stability. Annie is probably most independent character in this
book. She raised her children and grandchildren, she owns country store both
blacks and whites look upon her as a pillar in the community. She is a
religious women she is not dependent on men for financial, physical and mental
support. She chooses certain paths in life that where looked upon by Angelou in
her childhood itself. Second Mrs. Flowers an independent and educated woman in
stamps. For Angelou, her identity as a black woman was always in question but Mrs.
Flowers changed all that. Angelou notices how Mrs. Flowers carries herself with
style and grace in their community, giving Angelou a new perspective that black
women could achieve many things in this society. Both her grandmother and Mrs.
Flowers have a powerful influence over Angelou but only she can decide which
path to take in life. Mrs. Flowers not only helps Angelou to break her silence
by showing her the intellectual side of life, also shows her how to grow as an

people faces the problems, difficult situations or trauma in their life, at the
point their own traits come out whether it helps to solve the situation or it
going to be increased or managing with in it anyways the individual character traits
are important both negative and positive what we have. The thing to be known is
how we decrease or destroy our negative or sad traits with our positive one.


paper identifies some sad character traits of Maya Angelou as a protagonist. In
the beginning of the story loneliness of her child hood memory. In her age of
three and her brother at four they sent alone to Arkansas by train. Their
parents divorced and children longing for parents love wanted to spent time
with them happily. Their grandmother’s unconditional love is the only medicine
for their loneliness. Especially daughters are more sentimental and emotional
bonding with their mother than sons. So here Maya Angelou always dreaming about
her mother unable to accept the fact that they have been abandoned, Maya and Bailey
convince themselves that their mother is dead, they cannot hear thought that

            “Would laugh and eat oranges in the sunshine
without children. (42)”


could cry anytime I wanted to by picturing my mother (I didn’t know what she
looked like) lying in her coffin. Her hair, which was black, was spread out on
a tiny little pillow and her body was covered by a sheet. The face was brown,
like a big O, and since I couldn’t fill in the features I printed MOTHER across
the O, and tears would fall down my cheeks like warm milk (50-51).”

she receives her mother’s first Christmas presents the tea set and a doll with
blue eyes, rosy cheeks and yellow hair all symbols of a white world foreign to
the child’s experiences. Not only her mother alive, as the present proves.


was so complete that most black children did not really know what whites looked
like (24)”

of the black people especially women or having inferiority complex. Racial
discrimination plays a vital role in this character. Angelou recalls that end
stamps.The incidents involves three young white girls who are known to nettle
black and who have come onto grandmother property to taunt the older black
women with their rudeness, to ape her posture and mannerism and to address her insolently
by her first name. Little Maya who observes this painful scene from inside the
store and suffers humiliation for her grandmother, wants to control the girls
directly but she realizes that she is

            “As clearly imprisoned behind the scene as the actors
outside confined to their roles. (30)”


grandmother and Maya were insultingly rejected from a white dentist. The
dentist who is ironically named Lincoln refuses to give treat the child, even
though he is indebted to mamma for a loan she extended to him during the

my policy is I’d rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than in a nigger’s. (184)”

the dentist who holds a policy not to treat the black but dint refuse to accept
from black, this made Maya to think over money and humanity.


Freeman embraces eight year old girl and he rapes her, the rape and
excruciatingly painful act which involves Maya in ambiguous complicity produced
confusion, shame and guilt. Later when Mr. Freeman is found murdered, Maya
convinced that he is dead because of her so as to protect others; she convinces
herself that she must stop talking.

 “Just my breath, carrying my words out, might
poison people and they’d curl up and die like the Black fat slugs that only
pretended” (85).

on this conviction, Maya becomes voluntary mute, Mr. Freeman’s death having
provoked not only Maya’s spiritual death but also her isolation from her world.
Psychological difficulties of eight years old who has been traumatised by rape.


            Maya was mute for years, drifting
along and not saying anything to anyone other than Bailey. She mentions Bertha
Flowers, probably the most prominent and graceful of Stamps’ black citizens;
she is proper and kind, and Maya admires her very much. She reminds Angelou

            “Language is man’s
way of communicating with his fellow man and it is language alone which
separates him from the lower animals. (95)”

Flowers advises her to learn from the people around her, and that having a
formal education does not mean a person has real intelligence or wit. Mrs.
Flowers sends Maya home with A Tale of Two Cities and a book of
poetry, expecting her to read the works aloud in order to enjoy the language
and regain her voice. Maya finally regains the will to speak, and feels very special
at being noticed and taught by Mrs. Flowers.

paper concludes that psychological development of a protagonist Maya Angelou
throughout the story. It gives how she overcome it and managed to survive. Even
as little girl, she encountering so many problems in her life. She never gave
up and kept on working hard for prosperity of her life. She teaches us to pick
ourselves up through hard times and never lose hope no matter how bad the
situation might be. 

‘We may encounter many
defeats, but we must not be defeated” – Maya Angelou


Angelou, Maya. I Know
Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random, 1970.

Betrolina, James. “Maya
Angelou is Three writers: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, in Censored Books:
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Metchen, N.J. Scarecrow, 1993.

Burton, Annie Louise.
Memoirs of Childhoods Slavery Days. Boston: n.p., 1909.

Carby, Hazel V.
Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Women Novelist,
New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Davenport, D. & J.
Yurich “Multicultural Gender Issues,” Journal of Counseling And Development,
(Sept/Oct. 1991 v.70n.l).

“Cycles of
Psychological Nigrescence” Counselling Psychologist, (Apr. J 989 v.l7 n.2)

Fiona Maddocks, “Review
of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, New Statesman, Vol.107, No.2758, (January
27, 1984): 26.