I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Chapter 33: Summary and Analysis
by Maya Angelou

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Chapter 33: Summary and Analysis

Chapter 33 describes Marguerite’s return to her mother. Marguerite is relieved upon arriving there. There are fun times when Marguerite, Vivian, and Bailey attend recreational dances. Bailey and his mother, however, are not getting along. Marguerite says they are entangled in what she calls the Oedipal skein: a love/power struggle.

Finally one night, Bailey comes in late. When Mother Dear asks Bailey if it is eleven o’clock, Bailey tells her it is one. Mother Dear says there is only one man, Daddy Clidell, in the family. A quarrel ensues. Bailey leaves home and goes to live in a hotel. Marguerite visits him there. When they have said all they can say, Marguerite leaves him alone.

The development and growth of Bailey and Marguerite are quite evident in Chapter 33. Marguerite recognizes that she is growing. “I reasoned that I had given up some youth for knowledge.” She also recognizes the progress toward maturation of Bailey: “Bailey was much older too. Even years older than I had become.” At another point Marguerite explains that “Bailey was sixteen, small for his age, bright for any and hopelessly in love with Mother Dear.” Marguerite expresses her feelings toward maturation: “ growing up was not the painless process one would have thought it to be.” Bailey, too, expresses his feelings toward maturity. He says that there comes a “time in every man’s life when he must push off from the wharf of safety into the sea of chance.”