I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Write a review of the film version of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". Be specific about your audience (e.g. readers of a popular “teen” magazine) and attempt to write in an appropriate style.
- Compare the original text of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” with the film version. You will need to show an awareness of why the director and scriptwriters had to make changes and make reasoned judgements about the strengths and weaknesses of the two genres.
- In Chapter 34 of “Caged Bird”, Maya decides that she wants to become a streetcar “conductorette”, a position never previously held by a “colored” person. (The year is 1944. The famous Rosa Parks incident on a Montgomery bus took place 11 years later.) Imagine that Maya writes to The San Francisco Chronicle protesting about the racial discrimination she encounters. Write her letter. You may refer to other instances of discrimination that Maya would have been conscious of at that time.
- Create a “Caged Bird” home page for the World Wide Web. (Only the verbal element will be assessed; you will not be rewarded for technical expertise or use of images.) You may include links to existing websites but your own page must contain original material, such as character profiles, a time line, a commentary on language, discussion of themes etc. Try to be specific about your audience (e.g. A2 students).
- Choose any scene from the autobiography and rewrite it as a playscript. This will probably contain directions, though visual directions will not be taken into account in grading the production. Your subsequent analysis/explanation should comment on the choices you had to make (e.g. reducing/increasing dialogue, representing thoughts/narration as dialogue and so on).
- In the 1950s and 60s Maya Angelou was active in the US Civil Rights movement and worked alongside Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. Write a speech that Maya might have made during that time, possibly including some reference to her own experiences. In view of the powerful role of the Bible, its imagery and rhythms in Maya’s life, you might try to write the speech in a “biblical” style. (Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech is a good example of such a speech.)
- In Chapter 24 Maya fantasises about her “Momma” humiliating a racist white dentist. Choose a similarly degrading experience from elsewhere in the book (e.g. the speech by a white politician at Maya’s graduation ceremony) and turn it into a fantasy. Be prepared to comment in your analysis/explanation on the style you adopted (e.g. Marvel comic) and point to specific examples.
- Write a poem based on an experience described in “Caged Bird” or on one of the themes of the autobiography. Your analysis/explanation of the poem (e.g. its theme, tone, structure, imagery and diction) will be especially important.