Throughout Maya Angelou's poetry and autobiographies, it is evident that social obstacles and crude stereotypes did not suppress her motivation or desire to succeed in a world where she was initially destined to fail. Throughout her work, she transforms from the meek and insecure Marguerite Johnson in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, to the self-confident and intelligent Maya Angelou that is reflected in her book of poems, And Still I Rise. Maya has taken her struggles and transformed them into inspirational poems and stories that reflect her ability to overcome adversity and make it in a world where the white male supremacy reigned.
Maya's first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, chronicles her tumultuous life from adolescence to the tender age of seventeen, by which time she is pregnant with her illegitimate son. In this autobiography, Maya uses many childlike metaphors to create and innocent environment for the reader, so it doesn't seem as if the events are told in flashback, but rather in present tense. Myra K. McCurry says, "The almost novelistic clarity of Caged Bird results from the artistic tension between Angelou's recollected self and her authorial consciousness. Implicit in this dual .
awareness is the knowledge that events are significant not merely in themselves, but also because they have been transcended- (Bloom3 25).
In Caged Bird, Maya faces her first real struggle, which is accepting her appearance which in her opinion is awkward and shameful. She longed to possess the light hair and light eyes that are characteristics of a white girl. However, she eventually faces the truth. "She is a black ugly reality, not a whitened dream. And the attendant self-consciousness and diminished self-image throb through her bodily prison until the bladder can do nothing but explode in a parody of release (freedom)- (Bloom3 5).
Another struggle Maya faces in Caged Bird occurs when she is only seven years old and is raped by her mother's boyfriend.