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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

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Why did Marguerite believe they were heading to California in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

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Marguerite didn't really think about the real reasons she and Bailey were going to California. Momma had decided that it would be safer for the children to grow up in the West with their parents after Bailey had witnessed firsthand "the humorless puzzle of inequality and hate" that characterized life in the South during the Jim Crow era. She had also determined that it was about time the children's parents took responsibility for their own offspring. Although Marguerite most likely knew all this on a subconscious level, as a typical preteenager, she looked at the coming move solely as an adventure. In her romantic imagination, she "was enchanted with the creation of (her) own world," anticipating "oranges, and sunshine and movie stars and earthquakes," but not the realities of beginning life anew in a foreign environment. In particular, Marguerite had not actually thought about what it would be like facing her mother again. Marguerite had been sent away by her mother a few years earlier after she was raped by her mother's live-in boyfriend as an eight-year-old. "As unprepared to meet (her) mother as a sinner is reluctant to meet his Maker," Marguerite was suddenly faced with "old guilt (which) came back to (her) like a much-missed friend," and she wondered if the boyfriend's name would be mentioned, or if she would be expected to bring up the subject herself (Chapters 25-26). 

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