I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. As a child, how does Maya view herself physically?

One Easter when Maya is a young girl, her grandmother makes her a yellow dress. She imagines herself a blonde movie star with blue eyes. When she wears the dress, she is disappointed to find she still looks the same. She views her black skin as ugly.

2. What does Maya learn to understand, and later believe, about cotton pickers?

The day ends in disappointment and not enough money to repay either Momma or the white commissary in town. Marguerite listens to the men complain about being cheated by the plantation owners who use weighted scales. They take their sacks home to mend and then face another day of trying to earn enough money to sustain their families, but knowing they will end the season no better off than when it began. In adulthood, Maya would become infuriated at the stereotype of cotton pickers. She had witnessed the harshness of their lives and the cuts on their hands from the cotton.

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