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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


by Maya Angelou

Marguerite Ann Johnson (Maya/Ritie) Timeline and Summary

  • Maya and her brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas (say that in a Southern accent for full effect) to live with their grandmother after their parents' divorce.
  • One Christmas, Maya and Bailey Jr. receive Christmas presents from their parents. This is the first time that they realize their parents are not dead. So that happened.
  • Loud and fancy Daddy Bailey (her dad) suddenly comes to Stamps and takes the children to St. Louis to live with their mother, Vivian. 
  • They all move in with Mr. Freeman, Vivian's new boyfriend, and Mr. Freeman abuses and rapes Maya. He is put in jail, and later, beaten to death. 
  • Maya takes a vow of silence out of guilt.
  • This doesn't fly with her family, and the children are sent back to Stamps. Finally, a year later, Maya comes back out of her shell when Mrs. Flowers teaches her about the power of the human voice.
  • Shortly after Maya graduates from the eighth grade, the children are sent to their mother, and they move in with her and Daddy Clidell, who, by the way, is super cool.
  • Maya spends her summer vacation with Daddy Bailey. Part of the adventure involves a trip to Mexico, which ends when Maya gets into a fourteen-year-old-at-the-wheel car accident.
  • Our girl spends the next month homeless in junkyard. When she is finally ready to go home, she calls Vivian.
  • Maya becomes the first black conductorette in San Francisco. Go Maya!
  • After struggling with the whole puberty thing, Maya gets pregnant and—just like that—becomes the mother that she never had.