I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Maya Angelou

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

One stormy night an old neighbor, George Taylor, comes to visit the house. George’s wife, Mrs. Taylor, died about six months ago. Momma offers her condolences to him, and remarks offhand that it’s a pity they never had children. This causes George to go into a kind of shock. He then launches into a ghostly story about how, recently, in the middle of the night an angel in the form of a baby appeared to him, and his wife’s voice came to his ears, demanding children.
Marriage, sex, and reproduction are again rendered in a fearful light, this time by Mr. Taylor. The terrifying “angel” story is another example of how something that should be a joyful expression of love—having a baby—is depicted as frightful and disturbing by the adults in Marguerite’s world.
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Marguerite hates ghost stories and desperately wishes Mr. Taylor would stop talking. She remembers Mrs. Taylor’s funeral as the day she realized that she, too, would die one day. When Mr. Taylor finishes his story about the angel and the ghostly voice, Momma has a slightly amused look on her face. That night Marguerite crawls into bed with her, knowing that Momma is strong enough to fight away evil spirits.
Here we see Marguerite take comfort in Momma’s courage—she sees that her grandmother is not scared and will protect her from evil spirits. We know that Momma has already protected Marguerite from much more imminent dangers, most obviously from Mr. Freeman’s repeated sexual assaults.
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