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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

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Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe explains the main characters in Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings | Characters

Character Description
Maya Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Johnson, is the narrator and main character of the autobiography. Read More
Bailey Bailey Johnson Jr. is Maya's brother and best friend for much of her childhood. Read More
Momma Momma (Annie Henderson) is Maya and Bailey's paternal grandmother. Read More
Vivian Vivian Baxter, the mother of Bailey and Maya, is beautiful and unconventional. Read More
Uncle Willie Willie Johnson is Momma's disabled son and Daddy Bailey's brother. Read More
Mrs. Flowers Mrs. Bertha Flowers, a well-educated, genteel African American woman in Stamps, motivates Maya to break her long silence. Read More
Daddy Bailey Bailey Johnson Sr., also known as Big Bailey Johnson, is the father of Bailey and Maya, who lives in California and has little contact with his children. Read More
Bootsie Bootsie is the leader of the homeless teens who live in the junkyard in Los Angeles.
Daddy Clidell Daddy Clidell marries Maya's mother and becomes a strong father figure.
Dentist Lincoln Dentist Lincoln refuses to treat Maya when she's in extreme pain and insults her by using a racial epithet.
Dolores Dolores, Daddy Bailey's girlfriend in Los Angeles, physically attacks Maya.
Glory Glory, Mrs. Cullinan's cook, was renamed by Mrs. Cullinan because her real name, Hallelujah, was deemed too long.
Grandmother Baxter Vivian's mother, Grandmother Baxter, is a politically powerful woman in the African American community in St. Louis.
Henry Reed Henry Reed, the valedictorian at Maya's eighth-grade graduation, rallies the crowd's spirits by leading them in singing the Negro National Anthem.
Joyce Joyce, Bailey's first girlfriend in Stamps, initiates him into sex and then runs off with someone else, breaking Bailey's heart.
Louise Kendricks Louise Kendricks is a lonely, pretty classmate of Maya's who becomes her first friend when Maya is 10.
Miss Kirwin Miss Kirwin is the high school teacher that Maya admires for her brilliance and for treating Maya just like she treats the white students.
Mr. Donleavy Mr. Donleavy is a politician from Texarkana whose speech at Maya's eighth-grade graduation ceremony contains a message of prejudice and repression.
Mr. Freeman Mr. Freeman, Vivian Baxter's live-in boyfriend in St. Louis, rapes eight-year-old Maya and is subsequently murdered.
Mr. Steward Mr. Steward, a former white sheriff, warns Uncle Willie that he should hide because the Klan is out looking for an African American man to punish.
Mr. Taylor Mr. Taylor is an elderly neighbor who frightens Maya with his story about being visited by the spirit of his dead wife.
Mrs. Cullinan Mrs. Cullinan is a white woman in Stamps who hires Maya to help in the kitchen and decides to give her a new name.
Mrs. Taylor Mrs. Taylor, a store customer, dies and leaves Maya a brooch in her will, so Maya attends her funeral and is forced to confront the certainty of death for the first time.
Red Leg Red Leg is a con man friend of Daddy Clidell who tells Maya a story about a con man who uses white prejudice to take advantage of the race.
Reverend Taylor Reverend Taylor is the minister at the Baptist church who has to be rescued from Sister Monroe's enthusiastic response to his sermon.
Reverend Thomas As presiding elder of the Baptist church, the unattractive Reverend Thomas visits every three months, staying at Momma's house and annoying Maya and Bailey with his long-winded prayers.
Sister Monroe Sister Monroe is the churchwoman who loses control at church services, setting off chaotic scenes.
Tommy Valdon Tommy Valdon is a schoolmate who sends Maya a valentine in seventh grade.
Uncle Tommy Uncle Tommy is Vivian's brother in St. Louis who advises Maya it's better to be intelligent than good-looking.
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