I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Chapter 9: Summary and Analysis

Maya Angelou

Chapter 9: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Bailey Henderson, Sr.: the father of Marguerite and Bailey and the son of Mrs. Henderson

Vivian Baxter: the mother of the children; known as Mother Dear to Bailey, Jr.

Summary
Bailey Henderson, Sr., comes to visit for a short while in Stamps. When he leaves, he takes Bailey and Marguerite with him. The children think that they are going to California, but he takes them to St. Louis, where their mother lives. Bailey Henderson, Sr., goes on to California, but he leaves the children with their mother. Marguerite thinks her mother is the most beautiful woman she has ever seen; Bailey falls instantly in love with her.

Analysis
Marguerite is maturing and beginning to develop a poor self-concept. Marguerite finds it hard to wait for the children in town to find out her father is here. She wants them to know how handsome and wonderful he is, but when she thinks of being compared with him, she fears she will come up wanting. Bailey Henderson, Sr., makes fun of Marguerite on occasion and causes Marguerite to be pitted against him. Marguerite feels her father watching her; she feels so inferior to him that she wishes she “could grow small like Tiny Tim.”

Marguerite struggles to accept herself and her body even though she feels inferior to others. When she meets her mother again, she is acutely aware of her own shortcomings. “I knew immediately why she sent me away. She was too beautiful to have children . . . They both had physical beauty.”

Marguerite is unsure of herself and struggles to decide if she should go with her father or if she should stay with her grandmother. The reader also feels Marguerite’s self-conflict when she writes: “Now this way, now that, now the other. Should I go with my father? Should I throw myself into the pond, and not being able to swim, join the body of . . . the boy who had drowned last summer? I couldn’t decide on any move.”