I Know why the Caged Bird Sings: Chapter 25 Notes

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Chapter 25



1. In this chapter, Maya and Bailey are introduced to the idea of being moved to California, this being because of Bailey?s incident with a murdered black man.

2.a) In this chapter Maya Angelou gives us some more insight on Mamma?s character, she establishes the reason for Mamma?s secretive and over-protective nature ?Her African-bush secretiveness and suspiciousness had been compounded by slavery and confirmed by centuries of promises made and promises broken. We have a saying among Black Americans, which explains Mamma?s caution. ? If you ask a Negro where he?s been, he?ll tell you where he?s going?? (Angelou 164). In this paragraph Maya Angelou lets us know why Negroes at that time were so shielding of their privacy and how this related to Mamma telling them a ?part truth? to cover up the ?real truth? for them being sent away. Maya effectively develops Mamma through the situation that occurred when Bailey came home in horror ? ? When I passed the calaboose, some men had just fished him out of the pond. He was wrapped in a sheet, all rolled up like a mummy, and then a white man walked over and pulled the sheet off. The man was on his back but the white man struck his foot under the sheet and rolled him over on the stomach.?? (Angelou 167). Mamma?s instinct told her to get those kids out of there, no child should have to witness the atrocity of a murdered body. ? Whatever the real reason, The Truth, for taking us to California, I shall always think it lay mostly in an incident in which Bailey had the leading part? (Angelou 165). Mamma?s action to get the children away solidifies the readers faith in her as being a strong, powerful and caring individual.

c) A story that illustrates life in those times is Bailey?s incident by the river. This illustrates the racism and unfairness against Negroes, and the senseless violence against them.

?Then a white man walked over and pulled the sheet off. The man was on his back but the white man stuck his foot under the sheet and rolled him over on the stomach? My, he had no color at all. He was bloated like a ball.? (Angelou 167)

Any white person could kill a black person, and instead of being punished they were congratulated and given encouragement. Also, the black people had become desensitized so seeing their own people murdered since it was a frequent occurrence. ? They both responded characteristically. Uncle Willie said something like he didn?t know what the world was coming to, and Momma prayed, ?God rest his soul, poor man.?? (Angelou 169) Momma and Uncle Willie knew that this sort of thing happened on a regular basis, and therefore were not surprised.

e) This chapter illustrates the horrible circumstances in which the Black people in Stamps had to live in. They had to live in constant fear of their lives, especially males. Angelou achieves this by the way Momma takes action and gets the children out of Stamps before one of them gets hurt of killed unjustly. It was immediate action, the Black man in the river was the last straw and she was getting the children out as soon as possible. ? Momma prayed. ?God rest his soul, poor man.? I?m sure she began piecing the details of our California trip that night.? (Angelou 169) Bailey?s encounter with the dead Black man gave Mamma a reason to ship the children to California, a reason she willingly took.

3. The children are told a ?part truth?; this being that the reason they are moving is because Uncle Willie is crippled, she is getting to old and that it is time. The real ?truth? of it is most likely linked to Bailey?s experience with the downed black man?s body.

? She explained that we were growing up, that we needed to be with our parents, that Uncle Willie was, after all, crippled, that she was getting old. All true, and yet none of those truths satisfied our need for The Truth.? (Angelou 165) For better or worse, Maya could decipher the real truth. ?What ever the real reason, The Truth, for taking us to California, I shall always think it lay mostly in an incident in which Bailey had the leading part.? (Angelou 165)