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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

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In what style is the book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" written?

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This book is written in the style of an autobiography.  It is in the first person point of view and tells the story of her life in chronological order.  However, ever the poet, Angelou uses many stylistic devices to enhance the retelling of her life. 

She uses regional dialect in portraying character - Naw, Helen, you ain't standing like her. This here's it.

She uses biblical allusions - My pretty Black brother was my Kingdom Come.

She uses literary allusions - During these years in Stamps, I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare. He was my first white love.

She uses alliteration - I mastered the art of crocheting and tatting, and there was a lifetime's supply of dainty doilies that would never be used in sacheted dresser drawers.

She uses personification - Just my breath, carrying my words out, might poison people and they'd curl up and die like the black fat slugs that only pretended. I had to stop talking.


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Angelou employs many different elements of style in this novel, including dialect, allusion, symbol, hyperbole (exaggeration), similes and metaphors, etc.  Angelou uses a variety of literary devices to put the reader into the novel with the narrator.  In order to do so then, it requires that she utilize many different literary devices (because there are many different types of readers).  One of the main devices she uses is dialect in order to let the reader understand how people spoke during the time period and in this particular region.

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