I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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How did Vivian influence Maya's personality in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou? 

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Maya Angelou tells the story of her growing-up years in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and several key female figures help shape her life. Two teachers have a dramatic impact on the young Marguerite (Maya), and her stepmother Doris is a negative influence on her as a teenager. The two most influential women in her life, however, are her grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, and her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson. Together, these women shape Maya’s character and personality.

When the Johnsons divorce, they ship Maya and her brother, ages three and four, from California to Arkansas like cargo, their tickets pinned to their clothing. Grandmother Henderson (Momma) gave both children direction, set an example of hard work and discipline, and taught them how to sing through troubles in life. She taught by example the principles of thrift and economy, business and morality.

Momma intended to teach Bailey and me to use the paths of life that she and her generation and all the Negroes gone before...

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