I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Chapter 26: Summary and Analysis
by Maya Angelou

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Chapter 26: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Daddy Clidell: a successful businessman who moves the family to San Francisco and becomes Marguerite’s stepfather

Chapter 26 describes Momma and Marguerite’s trip to and arrival in California. The chapter tells of the reunion of Vivian with her children and of the reunion of Grandmother Baxter with the children after their trip to San Francisco. The chapter also tells the story of Vivian Baxter’s shooting her business partner. It was while they were in California that World War II began and Mother married Daddy Clidell.

Vivian Baxter openly confronts and shoots her business partner because he has not been “shouldering his portion of the responsibility” and because he curses her. The violence and conflict that was a way of life in St. Louis have followed them to California.

Imagery helps the reader visualize the shooting: “he reached her and flung both arms around her neck, dragging her to the floor.”

Marguerite develops her way of coping with the move to California, which she describes to her readers. Marguerite states that the “intensity with which young people live demands that they ‘blank out’ as often as possible. I didn’t actually think about facing Mother until the last day of our journey.”

The physical growth of Marguerite is evident when she says that her mother was “smaller than memory would have her.” As the years pass Marguerite also shows maturity when she recognizes the adjustments her grandmother has made. She tells how the “old Southern Negro woman who had lived her life under the left breast of her community learned to deal with white landlords, Mexican neighbors and Negro strangers.”