I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Maya Angelou

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Bailey and his mother’s relationship has become fraught and contentious. They push each other’s buttons and drive each other away only to apologize and reestablish good relations and restart the whole process. Maya knows that eventually Bailey will leave, and one night she overhears a great fight during which Bailey says he has had enough of living with his mother and needs to move away. Though Maya and Bailey have grown apart, before he leaves he tells her she can have his books—a touching gesture that saddens Maya.
Bailey was once the very center of Maya’s universe; now, she is able to accept and understand his leaving. That Bailey leaves Maya his books demonstrates his love and understanding of her—he knows that, absent other comforts, Maya has always been someone who can find a refuge in books. His departing gesture affirms that.
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Bailey moves to a motel. After a while, Maya goes to visit Bailey in his dingy motel room to offer him support. He insists he is doing fine, and begs her not to worry about him. She leaves when she realizes they’ve said all they can say.
This is the last time we see Maya and Bailey speak to one another. It is a sorrowful departure, but not a bitter one—Maya is no longer dependent on Bailey.
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