There are a number of themes evident in Maya Angelou’s novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In Ms. Angelou’s autobiographical narrative, she delves into the themes of persistence, inner fortitude and resilience in the face of adversity, endemic prejudice, education as a means of addressing social ills, and hope that supersedes life’s atrocities.
Throughout Marguerite Johnson's life she is exposed to strong Black woman who encourage her to pursue her education. At the same time, she is exposed to segregation and prejudice. In addition, she endures abuse which breaks her spirit. She stops speaking until she is able to physically move away from the abuse, and to heal psychologically.
The title of the book provides a strong message mirroring Maya Angelou’s life. Although she endured many challenges and atrocities, she was able to find her voice. She used the experiences which “caged” her to teach others about commonalities in the human spirit through her literary works. She gave a voice to the downtrodden, allowing them to "sing."