I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou
Character Role Analysis
First things first. Mr. Freeman is a creep—there's no question there. But that doesn't necessarily make him the protagonist in the book, right? After all, Maya was already struggling before he came along. So who (or what—don't forget that option in antagonist land) gets in Maya's way? Ahem: growing up black and female in the United States before the Civil Rights Movement and before feminism. That's a mouthful, we know (that's why we're just calling it "growing up"), but it's the bad guy. It's what's working against her. But in the end, Growing Up totally gets what's coming to him.