I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Maya Angelou

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

Daddy Clidell is a wily con artist who uses white people’s prejudice against them. He teaches Marguerite how to play cards and tells her stories of how he and his associates play the fool, and manipulate the bigoted expectations of rich white men in order to con them out of their money. Though they are con artists, Marguerite cannot see them as criminals—in fact she is proud of them. They provide her with a certain kind of education that is different from the one she gets at school, where she is taught how to speak and act in a way that will impress white people.
Daddy Clidell (and Marguerite’s love and admiration for him) indicate that Marguerite’s interest in active resistance to white superiority has changed since she dropped the white woman’s casserole dish as a child. She is now “proud” of her stepfather’s resistance to bigotry. The positive implications of resistance outweigh the negative implications of criminality. This is perhaps one of the reasons Marguerite considers Daddy Clidell to be a father figure.
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