I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

What does Marguerite think of Daddy Clidell and his friends? What does she learn from them?


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Maya's family take boarders in their home since they have a lot of extra space; they are a colorful and diverse lot, moving on frequently. Maya wants to ignore Daddy Clidell, her mother's new husband, but is drawn in by him; they become friends, and Maya learns to like him at last. He is modest and forthcoming, and honest in his businesses; Maya begins to regard him as a good man, and he becomes her first real father.

Daddy Clidell introduces her to colorful characters in the neighborhood, people who teach her how not to get fleeced and also tell her that blacks can win out over whites, which makes her feel gratified. The men are criminals technically, fleecing white people out of money and engineering clever ruses; but, since they are black and winning revenge against white people, all Maya can do is admire their brains and their boldness. In a society in which black people are always limited and held back, this seems like a just revenge to most in the black community.