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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


by Maya Angelou

Analysis: Three-Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Maya and Bailey Jr. arrive in Stamps. They live with their grandmother and uncle until Daddy Bailey arrives and takes them to St. Louis. Maya is raped while living with her mother and her rapist is killed.

Act II

Maya becomes silent out of guilt, but Mrs. Flowers encourages her to speak through poetry. Maya begins a long road to recovery, self-confidence, and independence.


Maya grows up after the whole Mexico incident. She lives without Bailey Jr., gets a job, and graduates from high school. Finally, she becomes a mother.

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