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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Theme of Change

From the very first page of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya lets us know that she isn't here to stay ("'I didn't come to stay…'" [Prologue.1]), and she sure doesn't break her promise. She moves from place to place, meets tons of new people, and grows as a person. At first, all of this change leads to insecurities. But in the end, our girl embraces it. And she's a total role model, because she's struggling with questions that we all face: What does change mean in our lives? How do we deal with it? Should we ever fight it? This is pretty tough stuff for a middle-schooler, but her experiences—along with the reflections of adult Maya—set a great example for us all.

Questions About Change

Is change a good thing or a bad thing in Caged Bird? What examples can you point to as evidence?
Is there anything that doesn't change in this novel? People, places, things? Lion, tigers, bears?
The novel begins with the lines, "What you looking at me for?/ I didn't come to stay…" (Prologue.1). How do these words reflect Maya's attitude toward life?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

When things in life are a bit topsy-turvy, that's when Maya has a real chance to grow.

Change isn't good or bad in Caged Bird—what matters is how the characters deal with it.

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