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Free Study Guide-I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou-Summary
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Chapter 14


After the noise and activity of St. Louis, the stillness of Stamps is exactly what Maya wants and needs. She comfortably climbs into its cocoon of comfortable numbness. Momma and Uncle Willie are happy to have the children back, but Maya is disturbed by Uncle Willie’s sympathy. She often catches him looking at her with pity, and she hates thinking that he knows her dirty secret.

The inhabitants of Stamps often come to see Mrs. Henderson’s grandchildren, for they have heard that Maya and Bailey have been on a glamorous trip way up north. Although Maya remains silent, Bailey weaves an intricate tapestry of entertainment for the curious visitors. The people of Stamps accept Maya’s unwillingness to talk as a natural outcome of a reluctant return to the South. Judging Maya to be a "tender-hearted" person, they understand her and forgive her behavior.

Maya worries about her own sanity. She feels that she can no longer think straight. Familiar faces have become hazy, and familiar people have become strangers.


Maya welcomes the quiet and undemanding nature of Stamps and its inhabitants. Momma Henderson welcomes her back with open arms, and Uncle Willie gives her looks of pity, which make Maya feel uncomfortable. She wishes that no one knew her dirty secret.

The people of Stamps all want to come and see Maya and Bailey and to hear about their glamorous trip up north. Bailey entertains them with wild, sometimes sarcastic, stories filled with double entendres that his audience does not understand. In contrast, Maya says nothing. The kind people of Stamps forgive her silence, claiming that she is simply saddened by her return to Arkansas.

Bailey truly understands Maya’s withdrawal, just as she understands his frustration at being taken away from St. Louis. He is her only link with sanity and reality, both of which she fears are slipping away from her.

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