I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Describe adversity used in this book...

What adversity did marguerite face? How did she overcome this?

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Most of the major themes involve adversity of some type for Maya. Certainly racism combined with sexism (being a black girl) in a place like Stamps Arkansas defined Maya as a fighter and a survivor. Maya's very sense of identity is challenged in the beginning of the novel. Her mother makes her a special Easter dress from lavender taffeta, and Maya thinks the dress will make her look like the blond-haired blue-eyed movie star that she wishes, deep down, to be. This internal sense of racism frames many of Maya's adversity in the novel. Maya and her friends and relatives will always be subject to prejudice merely because they are black; Uncle Willie has to endure even more hardship, since people are also wary of him since he is crippled. Prejudice is a difficult thing to overcome, and Maya must battle it in order to build her self-esteem. This story, however, is one of self acceptance and pride. Maya learns the meanings of these obstacles and, more than overcome them, is able to navigate through them and add meaning to her life.