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Maggie Proulx

	I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography by Maya Angelou,
 depicting her life as a young black girl growing up in a small town in 
Arkansas.  The book is taught in English classes across the country, 
usually in middle or high schools.  Although the majority of the readers 
enjoy it and consider it to be good reading material, there are those few 
who do not believe that the good qualities of the book outweigh the bad.  
Maya Angelou is a wonderful author and poet, and her book I Know Why the 
Caged Bird Sings is filled with her characteristically beautiful 
descriptions and explicit phraseology.  There is no sufficient reason for 
her book not to be taught in American school systems, but there are many 
good reasons that support it being taught in schools.

	In her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou takes 
the reader through her life as though the reader is seeing it through her 
eyes.  One of the most amazing things about Maya Angelou's life that is 
found in the book is her ability to succeed, even though she lived such an 
onerous life.  She was not disabled by her experiences, so she was able to 
accomplish everything in life that she set her mind to.  She can be 
considered a role model for that.  Maya Angelou is proof to all women, 
blacks, and other minorities that people can accomplish anything and 
everything that they want, if they work at it hard enough.  An example of 
this is when Maya was refused the job taking money on the busses because 
she is black.  She continued to work to get that job, and eventually she 
did.  She is not only a role model to minorities, but to everyone else, 
too.  The book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is also an excellently 
written book, besides having good content.  Maya Angelou has masterfully 
written her autobiography so that even those who do not enjoy what it is 
about are able to enjoy her palpable language and unique writing style.

	Some people disagree with this, and have the perspective that the 
book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings should not be taught in schools.  They 
believe that Maya Angelou's rape takes away from the benign qualities that 
the book possesses.  It is true that Maya Angelou goes through many bad 
experiences, but the inequities that she suffers from only add to the 
book's power and meaning.  The sexual content in it is not enough to take 
away a significant amount of its good characteristics.  Another opinion of 
the book is that Maya Angelou's rancor toward the white race is not a 
healthy point of view to be taught in American classrooms.  This, also, is 
not an entirely true statement.  It was not that Maya Angelou simply hated 
the whites, but the animosities that she felt from them could not be 
ignored.  Her servile treatment by the whites did nothing to make her like 
them any more, and she had no reason to like them at all.  There are more 
than a few supporting examples of this in the book, which can condone her 
hatred of the whites.  One is when she is refused to be admitted into a 
white dentist's office, and another is when the "powhitetrash" were making 
fun of her "Mama," which was like insulting Maya herself.

	Maya Angelou's book is written about her life as a black girl, 
growing up in the very segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas.  She had to 
deal with the problems that came with being black, female, and in the 
south individually, as well as collectively.  Her book is written about 
an American with many problems, just like lots of books written today, so 
there is no difference between her book and others, except for the 
experiences that she writes about.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 
book written about an American struggle, and should be read by the 
Americans who did not partake in that struggle.