What individuals serve as positive role models for Maya in "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, her mother, Vivian Bailey, is a positive role model.  Vivian is a strong, independent woman and a wonderful mother.  She shows her children how to stand up for what is right, confront people when needed, and show compassion always.  She also listens to her children and gives them support, allowing them to thrive.

Maya's grandmother is similar, although more strict than Vivian.  She shows the children discipline and keeps a tight rein on them.  She also demonstrates the need to stand up for oneself and to confront injustice when she sees it. 

Mrs. Flowers gives Maya a different view of African-American woman than her family.  She is genteel, well-educated, and refined.  She allows Maya to see a different way of life, and helps to introduce Maya to the joys of literature.

Maya's teacher, Miss Kirwin, also demonstrates compassion and teaches the importance of it.  She is kind and open with her students, and encourages them to express themselves.

Not to leave out the men, Daddy Clidell allows Maya to see what strength and social success looks like.  He keeps his family strong both emotionally and financially.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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