I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Questions and Answers
by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How might one best describe Mrs. Viola Cullinan, the white woman in whose service Margaret (Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) learned "the finer touches around the home"?

Expert Answers info

Chelsea Franklin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write204 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Business, and History

During Maya's time working for Mrs. Cullinan, she was taught the antiquated system of keeping house in the pre-war South. While she teaches Maya the proper way to keep a house, she is trying to hide her true feelings about having Maya as a paid servant in her home. Glory, the chef, was descended from slaves who used to serve the Cullinan family and because of this lineage, Glory shows more deference to Mrs. Cullinan that Maya does.

Mrs. Cullinan was raised with money and forced to marry beneath her into a home with less luxury than that to which she'd become accustomed. She is frustrated at the life she has wound up with and hopes to make it as close to her dream as possible. Her preference would be a home full of servants who have been trained since birth to keep a home, so having to teach Maya at all is frustrating for Mrs. Cullinan.

Some of Mrs. Cullinan's friends suggest that she call Maya "Mary," since Margaret is too long....

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 486 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lee Campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write749 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial