I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings book cover
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How can I outline "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, concerning race, prejudice, influence, abandonment imprisonment, etc? 

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danijo866 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write19 answers

starTop subject is Literature

I agree with the answer above. In planning an essay about these issues, it could also be focused on the other people in Margueritte's life. The major "characters" (or people, since this is an autobiography) could be useful in discussing these and other themes. Particularly, Margueritte's mother Vivian could be used to discuss issues of abandonment. Her grandmother "Momma" could be used to discuss issues of influence. Her brother Bailey or father "Daddy Bailey" could be used to discuss issues of race—particularly depictions of and treatment of black men in literature and in life. The prejudice faced by Uncle Willie would lend itself well to a body paragraph. Mr. Freeman, Vivian's boyfriend and the man who rapes Margueritte, could definitely be considered in a discussion of imprisonment.

If you want to dig a little deeper, you may want to consider comparing and contrasting characters in relation to these themes that you're exploring. Momma and Vivian, Daddy Bailey and Bailey, and Uncle Willie and Mr. Freeman might all work well as pairs to develop your discussion.

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Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write1,183 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

It sounds like you're referring to the many themes in the novel, so I would begin outlining an essay for this novel by its themes.  Some of the other themes you might consider including are coming of age, the "American Dream," education, point-of-view, allusion, and prejudice and tolerance (Enotes). Some of these can be grouped together for discussion in one paragraph, for example.

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amandamarie199 | Student

This book definitely contains a lot of themes that can be studied and written for a paper!

If you would like to make an outline, here are some of the ways you can approach this:

For the introduction, cover some basic facts and/or introductions about the book, including the title and author. Develop a strong, focused thesis using the specific theme and carry on from there! After the introduction, I would start focusing on the themes. If this is a longer paper, then each theme can be about two paragraphs. If a shorter essay, then I would make this only one paragraph. In the second parapraph, I would talk about the theme of race in the book. Definitely incorporate quotes and specific examples that clearly shows this theme. In the third paragraph, bring up the theme of prejudice and again incorperate specific examples and direct quotes. Then, I would continue into influence and abandonment imprisionment. For this novel, there are also other themes that you could focus on such as coming of and eduction. If you chose to write about different topics, then combining some topics, such as race and prejudice can be combined. Also, a topic such as tolerance can be combined to make the “flow” of the paper work together.

As for the conclusion, definitely restate the thesis, any personal opinions of the novel and themes, and resummarize the point of the paper. As for some pointers, check for the outline to flow together.