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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 Religion

When Maya asks Momma if she loves her, Momma responds, "God is love. Just worry about whether you're being a good girl, then He will love you" (9.6). Hmmm. That doesn't really answer the question. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the people in Stamps seem to hold on to religion so tightly that it replaces other human connections. It defines relationships (because of the use of honorifics), it sets up rules for living, and it provides comfort in oppression. Maya is definitely confused about religion. No wonder she seems to always be peeing her pants at church.

Questions About Religion

  1. Would Maya consider herself religious? Why or why not?
  2. What happens to religion when Maya leaves Momma? Is it replaced by anything?
  3. What kinds of people in Caged Bird are religious?
  4. Does adult Maya express any explicit opinion about religion in her commentary?

Chew on This

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

Religion in Caged Bird is like a security blanket; it makes all the bad things seem a little better.

Religion provides comic relief in Caged Bird—nothing more, nothing less.

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