I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Chapter 14: Summary and Analysis

Maya Angelou

Chapter 14: Summary and Analysis

Summary
Marguerite and Bailey return to Stamps, Arkansas, after the trial; Marguerite finds the “barrenness of Stamps was exactly what I wanted.” The community receives the children well: the people listen to Bailey’s stories and seem to accept Marguerite’s muteness. Marguerite concludes that she “was not so much forgiven as I was understood.”

Analysis
Bailey plays “on the country folks’ need for diversion” and attacks them with words and tall tales—despite Mrs. Henderson’s reminder to tell the truth. As Marguerite tries to cope with what happened to her, she tries to express her feelings and thoughts: “Sounds came to me dully, as if people were speaking through their handkerchiefs . . . Colors weren’t true . . . I began to worry about my sanity.”

Bailey is growing and maturing in body and in self-confidence. He is resentful, however, that he must return to the South. The reader feels, however, that Marguerite is waiting quietly for her physical and emotional wounds to heal; her maturation seems to be temporarily at a standstill. She feels understood in the Southern community and feels the barrenness of the small Southern town is just what she needs.