Thursday, 9 June 2011

Why Does The Caged Bird Sing?

Maya Angelo's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings represents many issues and themes. The core of the poem deals with the relationship between an African and a Caucasian. She explains the feelings of racial discrimination, segregation and domination, where the caged bird represents the Black man or woman.

I, however, want to address this theme on a less political level.

If you should ever meet me and engage in conversation, one of the questions I WILL ask you is Why The Caged Bird Sings? When I was five years old, my mum used to send me to a  parlor down the road to buy sweets. There used to be a very old man sitting there playing cards with his friends; a rather unkempt fellow with bushy hair and the brightest gray eyes you've ever seen. One day, I entered the shop with my pet bird. I can't remember what kind it was but I do know that on that particular morn it was belting out a most glorious tune. I bought my drink, paid the shopkeeper and as I was about to leave the man asked me "Do you know why it's singing?" Of course I didn't know, and to this he replied, "Think about it."

I didn't. (As if you could get a five year old to do much of anything).

It wasn't until seven years later, when  I went to visit one of my friends in the hospital, that I finally realized why the bird was singing.

It took me seven years to figure it out, and tomorrow I'll tell you my reason, but one great way to gauge a person's depth is to pose this simple question. I don't want you to think of it as a chore, or something you must do, but take a moment to ponder and share your theory with me and everyone else.

Why Does The Caged Bird Sing?


Michael Offutt said...

The caged bird sings because life is always full of possibilities and it is better than the alternative even if the cage is the only universe that it knows.

S.B.Niccum said...

My husband...the animal expert would say "because it wants a mate. All male birds sing when they don't have a mate, and stop the minute they get one!"
I wonder if men do that with their waist lines?
S.B. Niccum
Author Website

Tracey Neithercott said...

I think there are a lot of ways you could look at it, but I like to think it means this: The caged bird sings because it can. Even if it's trapped forever, it has the freedom to turn what is an ugly situation into something beautiful.

Andrew Leon said...

I think the easy answer, the answer you'd give if you're equating the bird with a caged person (of any kind), is that it sings for its freedom. After all, if you look at the songs that came out of the culture of slaves in the South, you'll find that the songs the slaves sang were about freedom and longing.
However, if you're dealing with a bird, well, the bird sings because that's what it does. It's part of what it is. It can't not sing.

Anonymous said...

He sings because the cage is his universe and he has never known freedom. A wild bird put in the same cage will not sing; it will die.

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