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Free Study Guide-I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou-Summary
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Chapter 3

Summary

Maya’s days are full. She and Bailey must feed corn to the chickens and mash to the hogs. Maya must also work in the store; but she does not mind the routine chores that she performs there during the day. In fact, she feels totally connected to the store and comfortable with the customers, who often praise her. It is her favorite place in Arkansas. In the evening, Maya and the family often rest, while eating canned sardines and crackers. Because Willie enjoys this time of the day, he does not stutter or shake.

Maya describes her passion for canned pineapples, but she never takes a can for herself from the store. She would consider that stealing, to which she is opposed. She also describes a time when the "used-to-be Sheriff" came to the house. He told them that Willie had better hide because a "nigger" messed with a white lady, and "the boys" would be coming over later. Uncle Willie hid in the vegetable bin to protect himself from the "boys" in the Ku Klux Klan. Maya describes him "like a casserole," covered with onions and potatoes. Seeking God’s protection for Willie and the family, Momma prayed in the darkened store.


Notes

From a very early age, Maya reveals her values. Even though she is tempted, she will not take a can of pineapple, which she dearly loves, from the store, for she would consider it stealing. She is also very hard on herself, striving to do a perfect job and punishing herself when she makes mistakes. It is clear that Maya’s values have been influenced by her grandmother, Momma Henderson. She is a religious woman, who comfortably turns to God to answer her prayers.

Maya is also capable of recognizing evil. When the old sheriff refers to "the boys," Maya knows he is talking about the Klan, which she finds abhorrent. She resents that the law enforcement officials in town do nothing to stop the dreaded hooded men. Seeking protection from the Klan, Willie hides in the vegetable bin, and Momma prays for his safety. Although the Klan never arrives at the house, Maya, after many years, still remembers the sound of Willie moaning in the bin and the sense of fear that pervaded the store.

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