What are some examples of figurative language in the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

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aleabalck eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many examples of figurative language in Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, from the powerful symbolism imbedded in the title to the haunting beautiful chiasmus in the line "See, you don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking" (Ch. 36). In Angelou's book, many of these devices are used to perpetuate specific themes, and the following examples all point to the most prominent topic of race.

Angelou frequently uses figurative language in character descriptions. Consider these uses of metaphor early in the novel:

"...he was lauded for his velvet-black skin. His hair fell down in black curls, and my head was covered with black steel wool." (Ch. 4)

And this simile later on:

"Her skin was a rich black that would have peeled like a plum if snagged." (Ch. 2)

Beyond character descriptions, Angelou furthers her discussion of race by using figurative language (here, a simile and hyperbole) to express the separation Maya and others feel between races:

"I wanted...to scream that they were dirty, scummy peckerwoods, but I knew I was as clearly imprisoned behind the scenes as the actors outside were confined to their roles" (Ch. 5).

"This might be the end of the world. If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help. It would all be true, the accusations that we were lower types of human beings." (Ch. 19)

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many. Look at the first line of Chapter 34, the last line of Chapter 33, the last line of Chapter 30, the last line of Chapter 25, and many others where Angelou speaks of things of great importance to her.

abdalrhmanaa | Student

Maya's Angelou mother kept telling her quotes that we all can use ; at this chapter there were about 4 quotes

1_ nothing beats the trial but a failiar

2_ cant do is llike dont care

3 _”life is going to give you just what you put in it ,put your whole heart in everything you do , and pray , then you can wait “

4-”God helps those who help themselves “

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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