What is the purpose, tone, meaning, and message of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou?

The purpose of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is to make sense of what has happened to her and to provide hope for other survivors. The tone of this book is conversational, down to earth, and easy to read. The meaning of this powerful autobiography is that one should never lose hope. Its message is that you should always persevere.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would say that the purpose of this great autobiography is two-fold. Firstly, it allows Marguerite Johnson, later known as Maya Angelou, to make sense of the breathtaking series of events which characterizes her young life. Maya endures remarkable trauma in these early years, from being raped to ending up living in a junkyard and later triumphing when she becomes the first black person to be employed by the San Francisco streetcars. Secondly, the purpose of this autobiography is to provide a sense of solidarity for other survivors of rape, racism, and homelessness.

In writing her powerful autobiography, Maya Angelou adopts a tone that is best described as down to earth, conversational, and easy to read. This makes the serious passages far easier to read and relate to than they may otherwise have been.

I would argue that the meaning of this book is that there is hope in all situations and that positive change may not be as far away as one might think. In my mind, this message is most powerfully...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1003 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on