I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Maya Angelou

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Maya (who begins to identify herself as such—this new name comes from a nickname Bailey gave her; she was “Mya sister”) sleeps in a car in a junkyard, and wakes up to find several other curious boys and girls about her age (14 or 15) watching her. They agree to accept her into their group as long as she follows their rules (which stipulate that no people of the opposite sex are allowed to sleep together.) Marguerite lives for a month in the yard, where she learns to drive and dance. She feels at home with her peers for the first time, and develops a real tolerance for difference that she hadn’t had before. After her wound is healed, she calls her mother and returns to her. When she sees her she knows her mother is a fine lady, and that Dolores is a liar.
Maya takes refuge in her childhood nickname when she feels the most alienated from her family she’s ever felt. Her attempt to avoid going home to her mother with a scar shows the depth of her guilt. Though Marguerite knows what it’s like to be victimized for being different, she has not experienced much difference herself. She believes her month spent in the Junkyard changes this—she met, knew, and understood people who had lived dramatically different lives than hers, a vital experience for any young writer or artist.
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