|key influences and themes
describes the rape by her mother's boyfriend, 'Mr Freeman',
Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. At the age of seven,
she had been left alone with him.
The horrific rape of Angelou as a child
After she was raped, Angelou and her brother went back to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. They called her Mamma. She had deep religious beliefs and a powerful character and was an important influence on Angelou. Yet as a strong black woman, Mamma was badly treated by the poor whites around her. The racism Angelou experienced is another key influence.
was terrible. I couldn't understand it because my grandmother
owned most of the land the poor whites lived on and then
they had the nerve to come and sneer at her. I was convinced
that God and she were one. It was heartbreaking. I would
scream and cry, I would get behind the door and kick and…
she'd just come and take me in her arms and say, 'Mamma's
baby, Mamma's baby'. It's hard, you know."|