I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
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Join the discussion on May 26, 2015. The author and poet recalls the anguish of her childhood in Arkansas and her adolescence in northern slums.
Maya Angelou's memoir captures the longing of a parentless adolescence, the brute insult of racism and rape, and the discovery of a world of words that can make the world right. (1969)
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[When I was 8 years old] my mother would take me in to sleep with her, in the large bed with Mr. Freeman. ...[he] pulled me to him and put his hand between my legs. ...He threw back the covers and his "thing" stood up like a brown ear of corn. He took my hand and said, "Feel it." … he dragged me on top of his chest with his left arm, and his right hand was moving so fast.... Finally he was quiet, and then came the nice part. This was probably my real father ….
The Well of Loneliness was my introduction to lesbianism and was I thought of as pornography. For months the book was both a treat and a threat. It allowed me to see a little of the mysterious world of the pervert. It stimulated my libido.
His pants were open and his ‘thing’ was standing out of his britches by itself. ..He grabbed my arm and pulled me between his legs. He said, “Now, this ain’t gonna hurt you much. You liked it before, didn’t you?” …His legs were squeezing my waist. “Pull down your drawers.” ..”If you scream, I’m gonna kill you. And if you tell, I’m gonna kill Bailey.”…Then there was the pain. A breaking and entering when even the senses are torn apart. The act of rape on an eight-year-old body is a matter of the needle giving because the camel can’t. ..I thought I had died.
it was his ‘thing’ on my leg. Mr. Freeman pulled me to him, and put his hand between my legs…He threw back the blankets and his ‘thing’ stood up like a brown ear of corn. He took my hand and said, “Feel it.” It was mushy and squirmy like the inside of a freshly killed chicken. Then he dragged me on top of his chest.
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