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12 Quotes from Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”

12 Quotes from Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” 

By Kosisochi Aghadinuno

On today’s episode of “Lit Corner”, I’ll sharing some inspiring quotes that struck me while reading Maya Angelou’s “I know Why The Caged Bird Sings.”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings follows the life of its central character Marguerite and the struggles she faces from the age of three to seventeen and the struggles she faces in the United States. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings deals parental neglect, child rape, poverty, and racism.

In the book, Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Johnson) covers the truths of her childhood, including how she was raped at the age of 7 by her mother’s boyfriend. She would later explain, “I stopped speaking for five years. In those five years, I read every book in the black school library. When I decided to speak, I had a lot to say.”

I could not make it through certain chapters without tears pooling in my eyes. However, certain statements really stood out to me and I thought to share them with you to get you through the day.

  1.  “See, you don’t have to think about doing the right thing. If you’re for the right thing, then you do it without thinking.” 
  2. “Like most children, I thought if I could face the worst danger voluntarily, and triumph, I would forever have power over it.”
  3. “We are the victims of the world’s most comprehensive robbery. Life demands a balance. It’s alright if we do a little robbing now.”
  4. “At fifteen, life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honourable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.”
  5. As I ate she began the first of what we later called “my lessons in living.” She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors. She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called mother wit. That in those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations.
  6. Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.
  7. “Ritie, don’t worry ‘cause you ain’t pretty. Plenty pretty women I seen digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.”
  8. “The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.”
  9. She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.
  10. “Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.”
  11. “When you learn, teach,” she said frequently. “When you get, give.”
  12.  “In order to be profoundly dishonest, a person must have one of two qualities: either he is unscrupulously ambitious, or he is unswervingly egocentric. He must believe that for his ends to be served all things and people can justifiably be shifted about, or that he is the centre not only of his own world but of the worlds which others inhabit.”

Hey, this is me hoping you enjoyed reading the review of Chima Nwoke’s “Amaechi” last month.

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