The train is a symbol of displacement. Bailey and Marguerite ride the train by themselves, with their ticket pinned to Bailey’s coat, when they are sent away from their parents. They ride the train again to and from St. Louis, and finally again on the way to California after Bailey is threatened and Momma makes them move away. Angelou reflects on these train rides at length—they fill her with a sense of loss, of possibility, of fear, of longing. In many ways these train rides serve to remind her that, as a young Black girl, she cannot have a home in America the same way that others can.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Train appears in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...Stamps, Arkansas when Marguerite is three and Bailey is four. They’d been sent on the train to live with their grandmother after their parents had decided to divorce. Years later, Maya... (full context)