Astrid Gustafsson , pp. 30. Inst. för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap/Dept. of Humanities and Social Science, 2003.
The aim of my essay, Racial or Human Oppression? A Question of Emancipation in Maya Angelou’s "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, is to demonstrate that Angelou’s autobiography should not only be read as a text about racial oppression but also human oppression. Despite the fact that the novel was published in the U.S.A. in the late 1960s – at a time of racial revolution – many critics claim that “The Caged Bird Sings” is an early attack on the white mans oppression of black people. But that is a too simplistic reading, which does not do justice to the complexity of Angelou’s work. Instead, in my essay, I show how the novel reflects Angelou’s conviction that injustice towards black people is not related solely to skin colour but is a fundamental human problem. I have used Stephen Spender’s theory of the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ life as it relates to autobiographical writing and considered the conflict – one of which Angelou was already aware – between facts and truth in autobiographical fiction.