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Free Study Guide-I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou-Summary
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Chapter 33

Summary

San Francisco has lost its charm for Maya now that she has tasted independence. In addition, adults no longer seem as smart or inaccessible to her. Bailey has changed too. He has new friends, wears "zoot" suits and wide brimmed hats, and sips gin. He is indifferent to Maya and is no longer enamored of Vivian. Mother and son, however, seem to be caught in an "Oedipal skein," as Maya calls it. They cannot get along, but they do not like to be apart. When Bailey acquires a "withered white prostitute," Vivian finally throws him out, and Bailey moves into a room rented by his girlfriend. The next day Maya leaves a red-eyed Vivian to meet an equally red-eyed Bailey. He explains that Vivian has already settled things between them. She has even promised to get him a job as a dining-car waiter on the Southern Pacific. Maya, who feels completely left out of this agonized struggle between her mother and her brother, can think of nothing to say; therefore, she simply leaves in silence.


Notes

It is clear that Maya’s experiences in the junkyard have greatly changed her. Arriving in San Francisco once again, she is not longer in awe of the city or the adults who live there. She also begins to see through Bailey, realizing that he has an oedipal complex. He loves his mother to the exclusion of common sense; and Vivian seems to have an equally destructive love for Bailey. Maya compares herself to Switzerland during World War II; she is a silent, neutral spectator. She loves them both, but is not a part of their explosive relationship.

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