A person's life is often influenced and shaped by the people around them. In her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou discusses her upbringing and how the people around her shape her life. The biggest influences in Maya's life are her grandmother, Momma, her real mother, Vivian Baxter, and one of her mother's boyfriends, Mr. Freedman. .
Maya spends the majority of her life living with Momma, who in turn has a great influence on her. Momma teaches Maya the everyday things that she will need to know. One of the biggest things that she teaches her was that you do not have to live up to a standard. Momma does not just sit there and say this to her but shows it to her by having "the Store built in the heart of the Negro area" (6). She proves that anything can be done if heart is put into it. Momma really wants Maya and Bailey to succeed in life and to do that she makes them go to school. By making Maya go to school she fuels Maya's thirst for education. "Sister Henderson sure got some smart grandchildrens"(15), was a common saying among the customers, Maya's smarts are well known throughout Stamps.
People can always be influenced in both positive and negative ways. Maya's mother's boyfriend, Mr. Freedman is the worst influence on Maya. He is the man who rapes Maya and in doing so shows her the downside to life and forces her to grow up rather quickly. For example, when Maya sits in library chairs she feels that she no longer fits in them because they are meant for children. Things people say after the rape make Maya feel that she is all grown up and that she has lost her childhood. Her rape by Mr. Freedman makes her lie and in lying she thinks that she is now hurting people. By not telling the jury what Mr. Freedman had done to her before, she lies and she thinks that by doing so she has killed him, when it was really a mob of unknown people. .
Thought mainly Momma raised Maya, when she moves to St.