had to go through. Marguerite didn’t have a real father figure (and when she thought that she did,
she was raped). She didn’t have a mother in her life but she had her grandma, yet it was still not
the mother-daughter relationship that Marguerite had wanted. An important character from the
book that took a big part in her life was her grandmother. Marguerite’s grandmother Annie is a
very strong, independent woman that fulfilled Maya’s void for a mother. Annie influenced Maya
to be respectful, learn from her mistakes, and stand up for what is right.
Marguerite had to find other things to satisfy the hunger of a relationship with her mom.
At the beginning of the book, Maya makes it pretty clear that her grandmother filled the position
of a mother that Vivian Baxter, Maya’s mother, couldn’t fulfill. She states Momma’s feelings of
raising both Maya and her brother by saying, “Momma intended to teach Bailey and me to use
the paths of life she and her generation and all the Negroes gone before had found, and found to
be safe ones” (Angelou 47). Maya explains that her grandmother’s intentions of being her and
her brother’s caregiver was pure loving-kindness to ensure their safety. Throughout the story,
Momma is ideal for making sure that not only are her kids clean but that they are in the place that
they need to be as children.
Maya’s grandmother need for her grandchildren’s greatness is strict from Maya’s point of
view. It was no secret that Maya and her brother had been raised in a strict Christian environment
but also that Momma was didn’t change in her ways when it came to correcting the two in order
to make them into better children. In chapter 15, Maya explains the event that reflects both of
these explanations when Momma said, “I’m trying to raise my son’s children in the way they
should go, but, oh, Lord, the Devil try to hinder me on every hand. I never thought I’d live to
hear cursing under this roof” (Angelou 102). Momma is praying for forgiveness of Maya for
cursing in her eyes. Later Maya explains that she was disciplined for her doings. This show that
Momma influenced Maya to learn from her actions.
At the beginning of the book, Uncle Willie was accused of messing with a white woman.
Momma knew that Uncle Willie would be accused of what happened because the sheriff told her
that white men were coming to hurt Uncle Willie. Because of this, Momma tells Maya and her
brother to hide Uncle Willie in the store in order for him to be safe. This event impacted Maya
by teaching her the responsibility of standing up for what is right even when it could be
dangerous. It was a large amount of liability for Maya to have but it came with a strict life lesson
that Momma was responsible for.
In the book, Momma makes up a large part of the text. She is the foundation that Maya is
built on. She gave Maya the basic knowledge that she would need in her future for making
decisions. One of the biggest battles that Maya had to face with abandonment and even though
Momma wasn’t her biological mother, she treated Maya just like her daughter. Momma
influenced Maya to be respectful, learn from her mistakes, and stand up for what is right.
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Random House, 1969. Print