From the tender age of three, Marguerite had to endure the hardships of an unstable home, racism, and trauma. After their parents divorce, Marguerite and her brother Bailey were sent to live with their strict grandmother and their uncle Willie in Stamps, Arkansas. They lived in the back of the store which was owned and operated by their grandmother. During that time Maya learned the importance of education, however, her life in Stamps was influenced by the continuous racism and discrimination. In Maya Angelou's I know why the caged birds sing, the authors purpose was to show how marguerites strength of character helped her overcome her tragic encounter with sexual molestation and racism. .
To Marguerite, the southern life was hard but she adjusted to the routine quickly. Maya felt insecure because everybody was calling her ugly while they called her brother Bailey, handsome and funny. Since Maya lived in the black part of stamps for a while, she didn't believe that white people were real. Due to segregation black people were not allowed to go to the white people part of town. When white people entered the store, they were rude and nasty, "People in stamps used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn't buy vanilla ice cream, except on July Fourth". Another example of racism is when a white woman refuses to sit next to a black man on a bus even though he made room for her. .
Out of nowhere, Maya and Bailey got presents from their parents who they thought were dead. After a while, their dad arrived in Stamps and decided to take them back with him to California. However he decided to drop them off with their mom Vivian in St Louis. Vivian had a boyfriend named Mr. Freeman. When Maya was eight years old, Mr. Freeman had sexually molested Maya. When Maya's mother found out what happened, she took her to the ER. Later on, Mr. Freeman was arrested, however, he was kicked to death soon after his release from jail.