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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

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Chapter 14

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 14 of Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings | Chapter 14 | Summary



The quiet "barrenness" of Stamps, where nothing much ever changes, is something of a balm to Maya's pain. The locals flock to the General Store to hear about the children's adventures "up North," and Bailey exercises his vivid imagination by giving far-fetched "facts" about life in St. Louis. Bailey distracts himself from his disappointment at being back in Stamps by engaging in sarcasm. Luckily, the customers don't understand his barbed comments, so they aren't insulted. Momma notices, though, that Bailey Junior has developed "a silver tongue just like his daddy." Maya feels removed from things—sounds and colors seem dull and muted, and she has difficulty remembering customers she'd known for years. Because it's well-known that Maya is tenderhearted, her silence is understood as a longing to be back in St. Louis.


Maya's inability to see vivid colors, her memory problems, and her feeling of being removed from things suggest she's in a state of depression. While the busy atmosphere of St. Louis was jarring to her nerves, the quiet of Stamps is calming. But it may be so calm that Maya will simply continue to go on in her detached, depressed state. She may need something to spark her interest in life, and it isn't clear that she'll find that in Stamps.

Bailey, on the other hand, isn't dealing well with his disappointment about being back in Stamps. His new habit of sarcasm suggests an underlying anger that may end up getting him into trouble.

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