I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Chapter 7: Summary and Analysis
by Maya Angelou

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Chapter 7: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Mr. Johnson: Mrs. Henderson’s first husband and the grandfather of Marguerite

Mr. Henderson: Mrs. Annie Henderson’s second husband

Mr. Murphy: Mrs. Henderson’s third husband

Judge: makes “a gaffe calling a Negro woman Mrs. . . . ”

Accused: hides behind Mrs. Henderson’s chiffarobe

Chapter 7 introduces the reader to Mrs. Henderson’s three husbands—Mr. Johnson, Mr. Henderson, and Mr. Murphy. Marguerite tells the story of the judge who asks for the witness who hid the accused behind her chiffarobe; not knowing that “a woman who owned a store . . . would turn out to be colored,” he asks for Mrs. Henderson. Mrs. Henderson turns out to be the only woman in Stamps referred to as “Mrs.” by a white person.

To enhance her writing, Angelou employs stylistic devices. There is connotation in the simile “wore a snap-brim hat like George Raft.” The reader would have to know the George Raft of movie-fame to understand the connotation in this phrase. Imagery helps the reader visualize the actions depicted in the chapter; for instance, “she laid down her handbag and slowly folded her handkerchief.” The idiom is used in “The whites tickled their funny bones.”

The theme of maturation is evident in Chapter 7 as Marguerite, still young and innocent, depicts the segregated world of Stamps to the reader through her young eyes.