I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 13 Summary and Analysis

Marguerite is hospitalized—a not unpleasant experience for her. She relishes the attention given to her by the adults around her.

When Mr. Freeman goes to trial, Marguerite agrees to testify for two reasons: Bailey says it would prevent another little girl from being hurt and he promises Marguerite that Mr. Freeman will not be able to kill him. Marguerite does not testify about the times that Mr. Freeman held her and masturbated; this causes her guilt.

Mr. Freeman is given one year and one day, but for some reason he is released that afternoon. The police come to the home of Grandmother Baxter and tell her that Mr. Freeman “has been found dead on the lot behind the slaughterhouse.” It is clear to even young Marguerite which St. Louis family was powerful enough to secure Mr. Freeman’s release and which family was capable of murdering him.

Marguerite copes with the rape and all that has happened by refusing to talk. She believes if she talks with “anyone else that person might die too.” At first, “they” understood her silence. Next, the adults try punishment to get her to talk. Finally they banish Marguerite and Bailey to Stamps.

Through characterization , the reader knows and cares for Marguerite and her family. Person-against-person conflict is first evident when Marguerite testifies against Mr. Freeman; it occurs also when the uncles pit themselves against him. Character-against-self conflict is evident when Marguerite struggles on the stand not to tell the whole truth about her relationship with Mr. Freeman. When the uncles take revenge on Mr. Freeman instead of leaving...

(The entire section is 408 words.)