I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Chapter 30
Maya's father has invited her to stay with him in Southern California for the summer, and she is very excited. He acts so superior that she thinks he must be rich. Maya agrees to meet her father at the train station, and is shocked to discover what appears to be a young girl there. She is in her early twenties, but serious, tiny, and very neat in appearance. She introduces herself as Dolores Stockland, Father's girlfriend. She was told that Maya was eight years old, when she is in fact a teenager, and nearly six feet tall. Dolores tries to be genteel, but she lives in a trailer park with Father. She tries desperately to keep everything orderly. Maya is, by contrast, a clumsy, awkward girl. Daddy cooks wonderful meals, always looks amused, even when nothing is funny, and goes to Mexico frequently to buy ingredients. Dolores, being too good to wander the streets and investigate her town, doesn't realize (as Maya does) that Daddy must be going to Mexico for some other reason, because he can buy everything he needs right where they live. Maya and Dolores do not get along: Maya doesn't like her because she is "mean and petty and full of pretense." Chapter 30, pg. 223 Then Daddy invites her to drive to Mexico with him. Dolores is jealous, and Maya is surprised: her father has never paid much attention to her.
Maya is amazed by Mexico: everything is strange and carefree. Her father has a drink with a customs officer. Her father offers him her hand in marriage, and she sits uncomfortably as they joke about this. Finally, they pull up to a building outside of Ensenada, where a group of women begin to shout welcomes to her father. He tells them Maya is his daughter, and everyone thinks this is hilarious. Her father seems more relaxed than she has ever seen him. She knows he has tried to prove himself over and over throughout his life. "How maddening it was to have been born in a cotton field with aspirations of grandeur." Chapter 30, pg. 226 Maya understands this, and she sees that her father doesn't have to impress anyone in this house-unlike in America. Everyone in the building loves him, and there is a great party where everyone is kind to Maya. Then suddenly Maya fears that her father has left her. No one takes her seriously, and she walks outside in alarm. His car is still there, and she knows he is with a woman. She remembers the beginning of the night, when her father had quickly said to a certain woman, "'This is my daughter' and 'She speaks Spanish.'" Chapter 30, pg. 229 Maya waits in the car, thinking happily of how upset Dolores would be if she knew about the other woman. For some reason, Maya begins to feel afraid. Does her father even care what happens to her? She decides not, and begins to cry. Then he appears in the darkness, led by the woman and another man. He is very drunk, and agrees when Maya suggests that he rest in the car for a while. After her father passes out, Maya decides that she has to drive home, even though she has never driven before. She gets one of the Mexican men to start the car, and drives off in a fit of loud roaring, sudden braking, and misdirected steering. Still, her father doesn't wake up. Terrified, she navigates a mountainside. When she reaches the customs office, she crashes into another car. At first everyone is angry with her, but when they see she is just a young girl trying to take her drunk father home, they concentrate on waking him up. Once awake, he speaks to the officer and the man whose car Maya hit, and everything is resolved quickly. Her father is utterly charming. She is angry, however, that he has recovered so quickly, when she has worked very hard to even get them to customs in the first place.