In "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," how did the family handle the identification of Mr. Freeman's assault on Maya?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Baxter family loyalty is seen in her uncles' response to Maya's rape. They kill Freedman in revenge for what he did to Maya, thinking they were helping. However, their actions are traumatic and cause feelings of guilt in Maya. She thinks Freedman was killed because she lied about the other two episodes of molestation. Her loyalty to her family is seen when she initially refuses to name her attacker. After being on the receiving end of Freedman's brutality, she fears for Bailey's safety. She feels the need to protect her brother. She only tells when Bailey says he would not let Freedman kill him. Bailey is her hero and what he says must be true.

Maya's belief in the power of words is seen in her thinking that her words in court caused the death of Mr. Freedman. She does not understand that her small lie would not have changed the outcome of the case or the fate of Mr. Freedman. If anything his treatment would have been worse if her uncles knew he had molested her three times.

dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bailey encouraged Marguerite to tell who raped her so that man would not be able to hurt another little girl.  When Marguerite told him, Bailey "cried at the side of (her) bed until (she) cried too".  When Marguerite's "pistol-whipping uncles" heard the news, their first reaction was to take vengeance on Mr. Freeman, but fortunately Mr. Freeman was arrested and taken out of their reach.  Mr. Freeman was sentenced to serve a year and a day as a result of his trial, but "his lawyer (or someone) got him released that very afternoon".  It wasn't long before a policeman came to the Johnson home to announce that Mr. Freeman had been found "dead on the lot behind the slaughterhouse", having been dropped there after being kicked to death.  It is obvious that Marguerite's uncles have taken things into their own hands and avenged her after all (Chapter 13).

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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