To What Extent Does Angelou Achieve Self-Actualisation in ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’

To what extent does Angelou achieve self-actualisation in ‘I know why the caged bird sings’

‘I know why the caged bird sings’ is an established autobiographical book which has been written by Maya Angelou, a highly respected woman mostly known as ‘one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time.’ Self actualisation has been described as ‘The motivation to realize one's own maximum potential and possibilities.’ Angelou, by the end of the book, have not achieved fully self actualisation described thoroughly by Maslow’s theory. This autobiographical novel primarily is an expression of the segregation, and self-actualization. The novel works particularly effectively throughout the use of structure, description and events that happened. This commentary is going to adapt Maslow’s triangle to judge whether Angelou did achieve self-actualisation.

First of all, at the beginning of the book, we realise that momma, Angelou’s grandmother, is going to be the one to look after both Bailey and Maya after being ‘shipped’ away by their parents. As a young child, her physiological needs is been fulfilled as momma has an established store which she has ‘owned for 25 years’. The store is ‘in the heart of the of the Negro area’ and ‘over the years it became the lay centre of activities in town’. This entirely means that momma, who is rich enough to lend other people money is definitely capable of providing food, water, shelter, warmth. This therefore shows that Maya Angelou is a step closer to achieve self-actualisation but this is not necessarily a significant step.

In order to gain the safety section of Maslow's triangle, she needs to achieve things like security of body, family, moral etc. As well as basic needs, a child has to be trained morally to do the right thing to make self-actualisation easier. Momma, being stereotypical black woman, has decided to train Bailey and Maya (e.g. hardworking skills) the traditional way for instance according to Maya, ‘before...