I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,  Maya Angelou

Analysis of Style

Choose any chapter from the story (Chapter 5, if you can’t think of any yourself) and examine the following aspects of Maya Angelou’s style.  Discuss them with other members of your group and be prepared to report your ideas to the class.

Find at least five words or phrases that reflect the Southern Black dialect.  Are they all presented as dialogue or does the author use them as part of her narrative?

Select at least five descriptive phrases as examples of the way the author creates images.  What interested or amused you about them?  Why are the images successful?  (What are the literary terms used to describe the images: simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia etc?)
Christian imagery

Maya Angelou uses a lot of Christian images and references in her autobiography.  Are there any examples in your chosen chapter?  Why do you think she uses so many?
Narrative voice

a) At some points, Maya Angelou tells the story as if she were a child, using childish language.  At other times she uses the language of the adult author.  Can you find examples of both the child’s and the adult’s narrative voice in your chosen chapter?

b) Similarly, can you find examples of voice reflecting a private self, on the one hand, and a public self on the other hand?  What effect does the mixing of voices have?