In the novel "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", Maya Angelou has reconstructed her personal history into this autobiographical tale whose protagonist is the child narrator, Maya. Within the novel Maya has many obstacles to overcome, most importantly her sense of abandonment and feeling of not belonging. As the chapters proceed we see her feelings evolve, and sometimes retract, in regards to these insecurities.
As the novel opens we see a three year-old Maya being shipped off to Stamps, Arkansas with her brother Bailey to live with their grandmother, who they eventually dub "Momma". Their parents" divorce is the cause of this. This move away from her parents and to a new place initially accounts largely for Maya's feelings of abandonment and not belonging. But thanks to the love and structure provided by Momma and the brotherly companionship of Bailey, Maya's feelings of abandonment begin to subside. .
The children continue to enjoy life with Momma in Stamps until Chapter 8 when Christmas presents arrive from their parents. In actuality the presents upset Maya and Bailey more than they pleased them. The children had believed that their parents must surely be dead, since they had not come to retrieve them. When Maya learns that her mother and father are alive, she believes she must have done something terrible to make them not want her, thus allowing those feelings of abandonment to come back full force. .
In Chapter 9, another twist arrives in Maya's life when her father shows up in Stamps announcing he will be taking she and her brother with him. Maya is unsure about the change in her life, and definitely does not feel as if she belongs. In contrast, Bailey fits right in with his father, only allowing Maya to feel even more outside and neglected. During the car ride, Father Bailey announces they will be going to visit their mother, Vivian. Upon arrival, Bailey immediately falls in love with his mother, whom he strongly resembles physically.